Facing health issues frequently?
What can you do for it?
Our body possess immune system, to stay immunized from diseases. Our body is highly efficient to protect us from infections that we face daily.
We face infections daily may be while eating. In gym, we get contact to most of the germs also even while traveling. Infections can happen anywhere.
Our immune system is responsible for protecting from these germs that invade. If the immune system is not working properly they invade successfully and make us sick.
Is it possible to boost our immune system? Do improving our diet will help to improve our immune system?
Can we take vitamin or herbal preparations?
Many things are done to boost our immunity. But nothing provides complete benefits.
Immunity is a perfect balance of healthy lifestyle and habit. A healthy diet, fitness activity and healthy habit play an important role in improving and maintaining healthy immune system.
Immunity depends on things like age, sex, diet, exercise, physiological stress and other things. All these are required in balance for a better immunity.
The loss in the balance of anything can promote degradation of immune health.
Let’s learn more about the imbalance.
Age: Immune system is largely dependent on the age of the person. At an early age, body functions at the optimum level to build immune cells that play an important role in protecting from pathogens. But as we age our body’s ability to produce these cells slow down. We are not able to make enough immune cells that increase the risk of diseases.
Gender: It is one of the factor that is also making it tough to understand the immune system. Women live longer than men. Men are two-to-five fold higher risk of developing the disease. Women have lower risk of serious illness from bacterial or virus infections.
It’s there in their genes. Yes! Women genes make them highly immune to diseases compared to men.
Researchers from Ghent University in Belgium found that extra microRNAs in the female X chromosome provide extra protection against diseases compared to men. (1)
Diet: To build immune cells our body require life-sustaining nutrients . Without a healthy diet, it becomes tough for the body to make those cells.
For maintaining better immune system a healthy diet is highly recommended. You can’t compromise on it, there are few things we can control for the better immune system.
Exercise: Exercise is the best way to flush bacteria from our lungs and airways. By cleaning these toxins it reduces the risk of cold, flu and other airborne diseases.
It also boosts the production of antibodies and white blood cells (body’s immune system).
Psychological Health: We usually ignore our psychological health that is also responsible for many of health issues.
Our body functions slow down with an increase in stress directly hampering body system to produce antibodies.
Happiness and laughter prove to be highly beneficial in boosting immunity. (2)
These all were the most important things that matter for a healthy immune system. Age and gender factor is not the thing we can do anything. But other things like diet, exercise, and psychological health is totally in our control.
We will learn all to get the perfect immune system and overall health.
Is there any risk associated with a low immune system?
The immune system is required for better protection from pathogens. These pathogens are responsible for health issues like cold, cough, fever, etc. A poor immune system is responsible for some types of cancer.
As immune system degrades we face minor health issues but later major issues take their place.
What is Immunity?
Immunity is our body defense system against pathogens that invades. This defense system includes white blood cells also called as leukocytes.
Leukocytes circulate throughout the body between organ and nodes by mean of the lymphatic nodes. It also travels through blood vessels. (3)
Leukocytes is of two types:
1. Phagocytes chew up invading cells
2. Lymphocytes are cells that allow the body to remember the previous invasion and destroy them.
Lymphocytes behavior is used to provide immunization. Weak chicken pox virus is introduced into the body. Lymphocytes recognize specific germs, develop antigens and store the memory to provide protection for next time.
So now we will learn about essential nutrients that are required for the better immune system.
Nutrients That Boost Immunity
Diet is the important thing that affects the health of immune system. A healthy diet can be termed when we get essential nutrients. These nutrients play an important role in supporting healthy immune system.
As said earlier that nutrients play important for immunity, the vitamin is highly preferred for supporting the immune system.
- Vitamin A: Deficiency of Vitamin A has shown to impair antibodies function and t-cell function. (4)
- Vitamin B Group – B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid: Vitamin B complex is important for the healthy immune system. Vitamin B1, B2, B6, B12, folic acid are required for production and release of antibodies. They are also responsible for the healthy circulation of antibodies. (5)
- Vitamin C: Vitamin C is the most important nutrient that is required for the healthy immune system. It is highly effective to reduce the severity of symptoms related to viral infections by promoting t-cell functions. It also provides an antioxidant activity that lowers inflammation. (6)
- Vitamin E: It is an excellent antioxidant that supports a healthy inflammatory response. It is also an important component of cell membranes and promotes healthy cellular functioning. (7)
- Vitamin K: It is required for healthy blood clotting that is necessary to prevent the infection over the injury and helps in the healing process. (8, 9)
- Iron: Studies found that deficiency of iron results in impaired response to antibodies and defective phagocytic cell functioning. (10)
- Zinc: Zinc is an immunostimulant that has made it essential for better immunity. Deficiency of zinc can lead to suppression of T-cells. Deficiency of zinc in children can lead to growth retardation and susceptibility to infections. Excess of zinc is also not good as it can inhibit the phagocytic cells development. (11)
- Copper: Copper deficiency leads to impair the development of T-cells and the phagocytic cell. (12)
- Selenium & Manganese: They can be immunostimulants and also supports healing from inflammation. (13, 14)
Food That Boost Immunity
For a better and healthy immune system it is essential to take care of our diet. The essential nutrients listed above are not available in single food. So it is important to eat varieties of foods that provide multiple nutrients.
Each food type contains a high amount of few nutrients while low amount other nutrients. So know the best foods that will balance your nutrient and boost immunity.
1. Gooseberry / Amla
Gooseberry is a perfect blend that boosts immunity as it contains varieties of nutrients.
Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that is present in abundant. It is essential for the production of T-Cells. It safeguards from infections and increases body resistance.
Gooseberry also contains a high amount of Vitamin A that is required for optimum antibodies and t-cells function. Vitamin B6 is present for healthier immune system.
Along with Vitamin C, blueberries contains stilbenoids and pterostilbene that are found more beneficial.
Stilbenoids is a highly preferred compound with Vitamin D that increases expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) gene responsible for better immunity. (15)
Strawberries are an excellent source of Vitamin. One serving provides 51.5 mg of Vitamin C which is 50% of required intake.
So enjoy strawberries as smoothies or as a whole.
Orange is a healthy source of immunity boosting nutrients.
A cup of orange provides 17-21% of Vitamin A, 100% of Vitamin C, 19% of folate and 12% of Copper.
Enjoying orange juice for immunity is a good choice but it’s better to eat the whole fruit. You will get more benefit by eating whole foods due to its fiber content.
Tip: Orange contains a high amount of Vitamin C. But if you are going for orange juice, the glucose level increases. Glucose and Vitamin C compete for the same receptors, while one wins.
In the presence of high glucose, the body is not able to absorb Vitamin C.
So it is highly recommended to eat the whole orange instead of orange juice.
Grapefruit is an abundant source of Vitamin C. Half grapefruit contains about 78 percent of daily recommended vitamin C. Along with, it contains Vitamin A, B6 and E that are also required for the immune system.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
In May 2010 study of Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, it was found that insoluble fiber is beneficial against anti-inflammatory effects and build up the immune system. (16)
Apple fiber is not a quick fix for immunity, it takes six weeks for the better result.
Along with rich source of antioxidants, it proves highly beneficial for boosting immunity.
It is a good source of citrulline, an amino acid that is metabolized to turn it into arginine in the body. It is essential amino acids that are required for synthesis of nitric acids.
It also contains lycopene that decreases the respiratory inflammation and also infections.
It is an excellent food due to its ability to protect from infections and reboot immune system, responsible for better immune system function.
According to research in Philippine Women’s University School of Nutrition, it was found that eating 1/2 cup of pineapple for 2 months helped boost participants immune system.
100 grams of pineapple contains 79% of Vitamin C along with iron, Vitamin B6 and manganese.
9. Red Grapes
Red Grapes is highly preferred for the immune system due to its resveratrol content. Along with resveratrol content, it also contains stilbenoids that prove highly beneficial.
Stilbenoids with Vitamin D increase expression of the human cathelicidin antimicrobial peptide (CAMP) gene, responsible for immunity.
Mushroom are among the healthiest foods for immunity due to the presence of varieties of compounds. Each mushroom has anti-infective and immunomodulating agents. (18, 19)
There are varieties of edible mushrooms, you can try anyone as all are healthy.
Mushrooms are also found effective for cancer patient as its extract compounds can help to locate the cancer cells by uncloaking them making chemotherapy more beneficial.
Carrot is a good source of Vitamin A, B, C and beta-carotene. All these nutrients are highly beneficial to boost the immune system.
Along with its pectin content is helpful in boosting immunity.
Beans are good sources of immune-boosting nutrients like zinc, iron and folic acids.
Tomato is healthy due to the presence of lycopene that provides antioxidant property. It protects immunity cells damage from free radicals.
In a study of American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants eating tomatoes has 38 percent low damage from free radicals. (20)
Also, it contains Vitamin A and Vitamin C providing extra benefits.
14. Red Bell Pepper
Red Bell pepper has a high source of Vitamin C. A single medium size bell pepper contains 170 to 200 percent of Vitamin C.
15. Spinach & Kale
Spinach and Kale are green veggies and loaded with high antioxidants. They contain a high amount of Vitamin C and Vitamin E that provides protection against infections. It also contains folate that also boost the immune system.
16. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potato is rich in Vitamin C and Beta-carotene, both these nutrients are highly beneficial to boost immunity.
It is found that the sweat contains the germ-fighting agent that helps to fight off infections. Sweat is transported to the skin surface where it protects from bacteria and fungi infection
Compounds shagaols and gingerols present in ginger stimulates the blood improving detoxification removing toxin and infections. (22)
Research by Toyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University in Japan stated that ginger has the ability to prevent and treat flu infections. (23)
Along with sulfur, garlic contains arginine, oligosaccharides, flavonoids, and selenium. These nutrients are the best combination to boost the immune system.
It boosts the production of T-cells in the blood that is required to fight infections. Scientists at the University of Florida stated that eating aged garlic reduce the severity of cold and flu and symptoms also go away faster. (24)
Tulsi leaves have an antibiotic, disinfectant and germicidal property that protect from infection. Tulsi leaves not only fight cold, flu and infection but it also helps regain health.
One ounce of almond contains Vitamin E and manganese, 37 percent of our daily need. These both nutrients are best immune-boosting nutrients
22. Oats & Barley
Oats and barley have high antioxidants property that is found to boost the immune system. They are also a good source of manganese, copper and other essential nutrients.
Oysters are loaded with immune boosting and infection fight nutrient zinc. Zinc in blood creates and activate the white blood cells involved in immunity. (26)
24. Egg Yolk
We usually throw away the egg yolk due to high calorie. In fact, those yolks are a great source of immune-boosting nutrients.
Many people don’t get enough sunlight which can lead to the deficiency of Vitamin D. But egg yolk can fill the need.
Along with Vitamin D, it also contains Vitamin A, E and K that also boost immunity.
1 ounce of Chlorella contains:
- Vitamin A – 287% RDA
- Vitamin B2 – 71% RDA
- Vitamin B3 – 33% RDA
- Iron – 202% RDA
- Magnesium – 22% RDA
- Zinc – 133% RDA
With a whole lot of immune-boosting nutrient, they are quite effective in boosting immunity.
Research by Yonsei University in Seoul Korea found that its supplementation supports healthy immune system response and increase natural killer cell activity. (27)
More than 400 compounds are isolated from licorice. All these compounds provide it an anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting property.
27. Coconut & coconut oil
Coconut & coconut oil contains lauric acid, that provides it antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal property.
28. Green Tea
Polyphenols present in green tea is a potent antioxidant, provides immune-boosting property. One laboratory study found that polyphenols known as catechins can kill influenza viruses.
Tip: Don’t add milk as it binds polyphenols that make it ineffective.
A healthy digestive system means a healthy immune system. Most of the immune system health are locked in digestive system.
It is highly recommended to keep the digestive system healthy. Yogurt contains good bacteria that is required to balance good and bad bacteria in the digestive system.
Along with it contains immune-boosting nutrients like Vitamin B2 and Vitamin B12.
Does any food harm our Immune system?
As we eat healthy food they boost our immune system.
There are also food or compounds that can degrade our immune system.
Foods allergy is also found to lower the immunity. Allery to people differs from foods like shellfish, cow’s milk, wheat and soy.
Processed foods or pesticides containing food can harm immunity. Toxic elements like cadmium, lead and mercury suppress the immune system.
Food additives used to preserve foods also reduce the effect of healthy nutrients. Eg. sulfites destroy vitamin B1(thiamin) in the food.
Protein For Immunity
What is the correlation between protein and immunity?
Protein is required to build cells or muscles. But its function is not limited to building muscles. An adequate amount of protein is required for the production of immunity cells and antibodies.
Research has shown that deficiency of high-quality protein can result in depletion of immune cells. Body lose its ability to make antibodies.
Healthy source of protein is required for a healthy immune system.
Tips To Boost Immunity
1. Get Adequate sleep & manage stress
Stress and sleep deprivation are the biggest energy of our immunity. They boost production of cortisol hormone, in excess amount harms the immune system.
7-8 hours of sleep is good for health.
To manage stress you can stress bursting meditation.
2. Indulge in Fitness Activity
Health issues have increased due to today’s inactive lifestyle. To stay healthy it is important to indulge in fitness. Fitness helps in better detoxification that protects from possible infection.
Muscle building exercise, cardiovascular exercise even yoga are the best fitness activity.
3. Don’t Smoke
Smoking is not good for your immune system. It is better to quit smoking.
4. Drink in moderation
Excessive alcohol consumption suppresses the immune system and increases the risk of infections.
5. Better Hygiene
A better hygiene is important to stay protected from infections.
6. Catch some rays
Most of the people face problems of deficiency of Vitamin D. Our foods contains a limited amount of Vitamin D.
Due to a limited amount of Vitamin D dose, the risk of infections increases. While exposed to sun rays for 15-20 minutes will give enough dose.
Boosting and maintaining healthy immunity is not a tough task. Eating healthy foods that are rich in taste and nutrition is even not a tough task. You need to incorporate varieties of foods in your diet and it will do the work. (28)
As said earlier that age and sex also affect our immune health. But eating healthy and fitness activity can fill the gap. Also, avoid the things that harm the immunity.
You will also like other detailed guides for health:
- Ultimate Guide To Unlock Your Respiratory System Health
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- Top Superfoods For Digestive System For Weight Loss & Other Issue