There’s a close relationship between nutrition and the immune system. According to this study, nutrition is not only for energy and protein but also to help the body fight against ailments.
So, yes, the right nutrients strengthen the immune system. However, some foods work against the immune system. With COVID-19 spreading like a bushfire, you do not want a weak immune system.
Read on to find out how your nutrition is affecting your immune system.
What is the immune system?
Generally, the immune system refers to structures within the human body that protect against harmful substances. One such structure is the outer layer of the skin called the creatine layer. Other organs and cells that form the immune system include specific immunity cells, lymph nodes, thymus, and the spleen.
Reduce your risk of malnutrition
Annually, about 6 million kids die. According to this study, malnutrition is an underlying cause of most childhood deaths. The point is, malnutrition suppresses and breaks down the immune system. So, the best thing you can do for your immune system is to eat adequate food.
Key nutritional elements on the immune system
Over time, including the following nutrients in your diet will boost your immune system:
Proteins are the building blocks for cells. Also, protein repairs tissues and is essential in the synthesis of hormones and enzymes that support the function of the immune system.
Protein sources include meat, fish, dairy products, seeds, nuts, and soy.
- Vitamin A
Aside from vision, Vitamin A also supports the immune system and the healthy functioning of organs.
Sources include; carrots, broccoli, leafy greens, apricots, mangoes, fortified cereals, and dairy.
- Vitamin B6
Among the B-complex vitamins, vitamin B6 is the most vital to immune function. Its deficiency, according to research, affects both cell-mediated and humoral immune responses.
Sources include; fish, poultry, meat, and non-citrus fruits.
- Vitamin C
This vitamin has antioxidative properties, aids the wound healing process, and supports the immune system.
The primary sources are citrus fruits, tomatoes, strawberries, and leafy greens such as broccoli.
- Vitamin D
Known for helping in the absorption of calcium, research also suggests that Vitamin D has immunomodulatory effects.
Sources include fatty fish, fish oil, dairy, and cereals.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E supports the immunity, among other things, by acting as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage.
Sources include vegetable oil, fortified cereals, and nuts.
Minerals are macronutrients found in small amounts in different foods. Unfortunately, the body does not synthesize minerals – we have to get them from the diet. Minerals that support the immune system include selenium, iron, and zinc.
A healthy gut promotes immunity
Immunity starts in the gut, where more than 70% of immune cells live. The gastrointestinal tract is also home to more than 100 trillion gut bacteria, making up the gut microbiota. It is also the main entrance for pathogens, allergens, and toxins.
The immune system’s ability to distinguish between harmful and harmless compounds is dependent on a healthy gut, according to this study. For a healthy gut, you need food rich in probiotics (healthy bacteria) and prebiotics (food for the healthy bacteria to feed on.
Foods that harm your immune system
Sugary foods, refined carbs, alcohol, sodas, and gluten are among the foods that can harm your immune system. In short, unhealthy food is bad for your immune. For instance, according to this study, alcohol has several effects on the immune system, including reducing the production of T cells and B cells, which help fight microbial invaders.