According to the Global Wellness Institute (GWI), the wellness industry represents 5.3% of the global economic output, with healthy eating, nutrition and weight loss garnering $702 billion according to the Institute’s 2018 data report. It’s no secret that the wellness, nutrition and vitamin supplement industry has made its mark as one of the most important facets of the spa and wellness movement. The power of advertising is quite an influential messenger, as people are enticed by any number of panaceas claiming to deliver better health or thwart off aging via a specific diet or vitamin. There are so many options and as many varied opinions—but when it comes to health and immunity, striving for healthy nutrition remains at the forefront.
Logically, good nutrition is a crucial step toward preventive health. Of course, the concept of healthy eating is not new: The father of naturopathic medicine, Hippocrates, ascribed “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food,” all the way back in 400 B.C. That statement still rings true today among health care professionals, particularly in the circles of functional nutrition and preventive medicine.
Eating well benefits the body’s immune system, and knowing how nutrition and immunity tie together to improve overall wellness is especially crucial in the era of COVID-19. Learning about the link between diet and immunity will not only help you guide your clients to healthier choices; it will also allow you to take better care of yourself at a time when it’s more important than ever.
The body’s inherent immune system, called adaptive or acquired immunity, is what detects pathogens and creates antibodies and immune cells to fight them. Innate immunity is the first line of defense from pathogens that try to enter the body via protective barrier mechanisms, including:
- The skin’s microbiome and microbiota
- Stomach acid
- Enzymes found in sweat and tears
- Immune system cells that attack non-self cells
Erin Madigan-Fleck, NMD, CDT, LMC, LEI, has more than 35 years of experience in the aesthetic and natural health industry. She is a naturopathic medical physician with a private practice, Naturophoria, in Atlanta. A member of the Association for Applied Corneotherapy and American Society for Nutrition, Dr. Madigan-Fleck is also the southeast director of the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners, and the owner and founder of DermaEducationTV Post Graduate Esthetic Training.