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Fight off flu with immune-boosting nutrients
It’s flu season once more, which means that the vast majority of people will receive a flu vaccination and will make every effort to keep healthy. Can particular meals or supplements, on the other hand, serve to strengthen the immune system and achieve the objective of “staying healthy?” Much misconception exists regarding whether foods or supplements are effective in treating specific conditions.
Here are some myths and facts about immune-boosting nutrients:
The flu season has returned, which means that the vast majority of individuals have received a flu vaccination and are attempting to maintain their health as much as possible. Can particular meals or supplements, on the other hand, serve to strengthen the immune system and achieve the objective of “staying healthy? Much misconception exists regarding whether foods or supplements are effective in treating specific ailments.
Myth: Zinc boosts your immune system.
The same as with vitamin C, there isn’t enough data to justify the practice of supplementing with more zinc to keep illness at bay. To maintain a healthy immune system, it is necessary to meet daily zinc needs; nevertheless, surpassing these requirements might be harmful.
In 2009, the Food and Drug Administration issued a warning to customers to avoid using zinc nasal sprays after research revealed that they may impair the sense of smell.
Fact: Chicken soup is a cure-all.
In accordance with the National Institutes of Health, there are several health benefits to be gained from chicken soup. Apart from being comforting, grandma’s home medicine also possesses anti-inflammatory, hydrating, and mucus-stimulating qualities.
Myth: Dairy increases mucus production.
Some people believe that milk and other dairy products make a phlegmy disease worse, although there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. The majority of research have concluded that there is no link between dairy consumption and increased mucus production.
Choose immune-boosting nutrients
- Carotene (beta carotene) A pigment called beta carotene may be found in a variety of plant foods such as sweet potatoes and spinach as well as carrots, mangoes, broccoli, and tomatoes. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant. Citrus fruits, berries, melons, tomatoes, bell peppers, and broccoli are examples of foods that are high in vitamin C. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. Fatty fish and eggs are good sources of vitamin D. Milk and 100 percent juices fortified with vitamin D are other excellent sources of the vitamin. Zinc However, zinc may be found in a variety of plant-based foods such as wheat germ, beans, nuts, and tofu, and it is more readily absorbed from animal sources such as beef and shellfish. Probiotics Probiotics are beneficial microorganisms that are beneficial to one’s health. Fermented foods such as kefir and kimchi include probiotics. You may find them in cultured dairy products such as yogurt, as well as in fermented dairy products. Protein A variety of animal and plant-based sources of protein are found in foods such as milk, yogurt, eggs, meat, poultry, shellfish, nuts, seeds, beans, and lentils.
Keep the immune system strong all year long
- Maintain a healthy food plan that is well-balanced. Make sure you don’t miss meals to keep your body well-fueled. Aim for five to seven servings of vegetables and fruits every day in order to acquire enough of the immune-boosting vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are included in these foods. Fruit is defined as one medium piece of fresh fruit, one cup of berries or melons, or one-half cup of canned fruit packaged in its own juice, depending on the kind. A serving of vegetables is one-half cup of cooked vegetables or one cup of raw vegetables. It is usually preferable to obtain these nutrients via food rather than through vitamin or mineral supplements. Many herbal treatments are promoted to help people combat colds or lessen the length of their symptoms
- However, before taking any supplements or drugs, consult with your health care professional. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water. It’s important to remember to drink enough of fluids throughout the day. Plain water is preferable
- Bacteria should be prevented from spreading. Hand washing and good hygiene are important in preventing the transmission of germs. Always remember to thoroughly wash vegetables before eating or utilizing it in recipes. Remove bacteria from glasses, forks and spoons, and other utensils to help prevent the spread and growth of bacteria. Improve sleep and lower stress levels. Getting enough sleep and controlling stress might be just as essential as eating a healthy diet when it comes to avoiding the flu. According to research, a lack of sleep and increased stress are associated with disease and general bad health, resulting in the following consequences:
- Depending on their age, adults should obtain seven to nine hours of sleep every day, but children require eight to fourteen hours, depending on their age. Meditating, listening to music, or writing are all good strategies to cope with stress in a healthy way. Physical activity is another stress-management method that may also lower your chance of developing some chronic conditions that might impair your immune system.
Even if you eat well, get enough of rest, drink lots of fluids, and keep your stress levels under control, you may still contract the flu. If this is the case, your illness may be shorter in duration and you may not feel as miserable.
Stay well. In the meantime, here are some recipes incorporating immune-fighting foods:
Eating Right Is Beneficial 610 cups low-sodium chicken broth3 medium carrots, diced1 big stalk celery, diced3 medium onions, diced 3 tablespoons freshly minced ginger (optional) 6 garlic cloves, peeled and minced 4 fluid ounces egg noodles made with whole wheat (3 cups) 4 cups cooked skinless skinless chicken breast, shredded (about 1 pound) 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh dill1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (or more to taste) In a large Dutch oven, bring the broth to a boil.
Cook the carrots, celery, ginger, and garlic, uncovered, over medium heat for approximately 20 minutes, or until the veggies are just barely soft.
Add the dill and lemon juice and mix well.
Tomato Apple Jam
Healthy Living Center at the Mayo Clinic This recipe serves 4 people. Sauce to be used with chicken steak or fish or fried eggs or on toast as an appetizer. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions 1/4 cup coarsely ground mustard seed 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper1/8 teaspoon ground allspice 1/8 teaspoon paprika 1 / 8 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon 2 cups peeled and diced tomatoes2 cups unpeeled and chopped apples2 cups feta cheese 14 cup apple cider vinegar (optional) 14 cup sugar (about) a quarter teaspoon of salt In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering.
Cook the onions for two minutes in the oil.
Combine the tomatoes, apples, vinegar, and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
A dietitian at Nutrition Services in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Paula Przywojski has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition.
Nutrition and Immunity
During flu season or other times of sickness, individuals frequently seek out particular meals or vitamin supplements that are supposed to help them recover faster. Vitamin C and foods such as citrus fruits, chicken soup, and tea with honey are all common examples of how to get enough vitamin C. The architecture of our immune system, on the other hand, is complicated and is impacted by an optimum balance of many elements other than nutrition, and in particular, not by any one particular food or nutrient.
What Is Our Immune System?
On a daily basis, we are continually exposed to a wide range of potentially hazardous bacteria of various types and species. Against these hazardous bacteria as well as some illnesses, our immune system, which is comprised of a complex network of stages and routes in the body, defends us. It is capable of identifying and eliminating foreign invaders like as bacteria, viruses, and parasites, and it does it immediately. Immunity in humans is divided into two categories: innate and adaptive. Natural immunity is a first-line defense against viruses that attempt to enter our bodies, and it is done by the formation of protective barrier.
- Skin that is impenetrable to the vast majority of infections
- Mucus that acts as a trap for infections
- Acid produced by the stomach that kills germs Our sweat and tears include enzymes that aid in the production of anti-bacterial substances. Antibodies produced by the immune system that target all foreign cells that enter the body
Adaptive immunity, also known as acquired immunity, is a system that develops the ability to identify a virus. A number of cells and organs in our body, including the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and lymph nodes, control this process. When a foreign substance enters the body, these cells and organs produce antibodies, which results in the proliferation of immune cells (including different types of white blood cells) that are specific to the harmful substance and attack and destroy it. When a foreign substance enters the body, these cells and organs produce antibodies, which results in the multiplication of immune cells (including different types of white blood cells).
Other conditions that trigger an immune response
Antigens are chemicals that the body recognizes as foreign and potentially hazardous, causing immune cell activity to be activated. Allergens are one sort of antigen, and they include things like grass pollen, dust, food components, and pet hair, among other things. Antigens can elicit a hyper-reactive response, in which an excessive number of white blood cells is discharged. The sensitivity of individuals to antigens varies greatly. For example, a mold allergy might cause symptoms such as wheezing and coughing in a sensitive individual, but it will not cause a reaction in anybody else.
- When infections attack healthy cells and tissue, a kind of immune cell known as mast cells mounts a counterattack and releases proteins known as histamines, which inflame the surrounding tissue.
- As a result of the release of histamines, the body releases even more white blood cells to combat infections.
- Autoimmune illnesses such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and type 1 diabetes are partially genetic and induce hypersensitivity, in which immune cells assault and kill healthy cells.
- Immunodeficiency illnesses, which can be either inherited or acquired, can cause the immune system to be depressed or fully disabled.
Cancers such as AIDS and leukemia and multiple myeloma are among the most prevalent acquired forms of the disease. In certain instances, the body’s defenses have been compromised to the point where a person is extremely vulnerable to sickness caused by invading microorganisms or antigens.
What factors can depress our immune system?
- The aging process can cause our internal systems to become less effective
- Immune-related tissues such as the thymus and bone marrow may create fewer immune cells, which are necessary for fighting infections. Micronutrient deficits are sometimes related with aging, and these deficiencies can exacerbate a diminishing immune function. Polluting agents in the environment (smoke and other particles contributing to air pollution, excessive alcohol consumption): These chemicals can impair or decrease the normal function of immune cells. Increased weight: Obesity is related with low-grade chronic inflammation, which can be life-threatening. Adipocytokines, which are produced by fat tissue, have the potential to stimulate inflammatory processes. Obesity has also been found as an independent risk factor for the influenza virus, presumably as a result of reduced function of T-cells, which are a kind of white blood cell
- However, further research is needed to confirm this. An inadequate diet can affect the formation and activation of immune cells and antibodies. Malnutrition or a diet low in one or more nutrients can have this effect. Chronic illnesses: Autoimmune and immunodeficiency disorders, which assault and possibly cripple immune cells, are two examples of chronic diseases. Chronic mental stress: Stress causes the production of hormones such as cortisol, which reduces inflammation (inflammation is initially required for the activation of immune cells) as well as the activity of white blood cells. A lack of sleep and rest:Sleep is a period of restoration for the body, during which a kind of cytokine that fights infection is released
- Too little sleep reduces the quantity of these cytokines and other immune cells in the body
- And a lack of exercise.
Does an Immune-Boosting Diet Exist?
In order for all cells, including immune cells, to operate properly, they must get sufficient nutrients as part of a balanced diet. Certain dietary patterns may be more effective in preparing the body for microbial invasions and excessive inflammation, but it is doubtful that any specific foods will provide more protection against these threats. Many micronutrients are required for each stage of the body’s immunological response, which is why they are so important. Immune cells require a number of nutrients, some of which have been identified as being essential for their growth and function, including vitamin C, vitamin D (ascorbic acid), zinc (selenium), iron (ferrous sulfate), and protein (casein) (including the amino acid glutamine).
- Diets that are low in diversity and high in nutrients, such as those that are predominantly composed of ultra-processed meals and devoid of minimally processed foods, can have a detrimental impact on the immune system’s ability to function properly.
- In our bodies, the microbiome contains billions of bacteria and other microorganisms that dwell in the intestines and other parts of our digestive tract.
- The gut is a key location of immunological activity and the synthesis of antimicrobial proteins, and it is also a major site of infection.
- A high-fiber plant-rich diet that includes plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes appears to be good for the establishment and maintenance of beneficial microorganisms in the gut.
- Because they provide food for bacteria, these fibers are frequently referred to as prebiotics.
- Healthy colonies of beneficial bacteria are fed and maintained by the use of probiotic meals, whereas fiber and oligosaccharides are consumed by the consumption of prebiotic foods.
- Foods that include probiotics include kefir and yogurt that contains live active cultures as well as fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha tea, kimchi, and miso. Garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, Jerusalem artichokes, dandelion greens, bananas, and seaweed are some of the prebiotic foods to consume. An overarching rule, however, is that you should consume a mix of fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains to obtain enough dietary prebiotics.
Chicken soup as medicine?
The comfort of a hot cup of chicken soup is a common choice when we’re feeling a little under the weather. Is there any scientific proof to support the claim that it assists in healing? Chicken soup does not appear to hasten recovery any faster than other meals, according to the short answer; no clinical investigations have been conducted to support this claim. However, when you look at the components, it appears to be a decent cure to experiment with. First and foremost, chicken soup is light and easy on the stomach when our appetite isn’t up to par for whatever reason.
To conclude, a typical chicken soup recipe has a wide range of minerals that are beneficial to the immune system, including protein and zinc from the chicken, vitamin A from carrots, vitamin C from celery and onions, and antioxidants from the onions and herbs.
When you’re feeling under the weather, this is a delicious and relaxing dish to put in your diet that doesn’t require a prescription from your doctor.
Do Vitamin or Herbal Supplements Help?
A single dietary shortage can have a significant impact on the body’s immunological response. Animal studies have discovered that deficits in zinc, selenium, iron, copper, folic acid, as well as vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E, can have a negative impact on immunological response in humans. These nutrients assist the immune system in a variety of ways, including acting as antioxidants to protect healthy cells, promoting the development and function of immune cells, and stimulating the production of antibodies.
Spotlight on vitamin D
The importance of vitamin D in the regulation of the immune system has prompted scientists to pursue two simultaneous research paths: How can a vitamin D deficit influence the onset and progression of diseases such as multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, and other so-called “autoimmune” illnesses, in which the body’s immune system targets its own organs and tissues? And may vitamin D supplements aid in the strengthening of our bodies’ natural defenses against infectious diseases such as TB and the flu season?
- Consuming a high-quality diet, as illustrated by the Healthy Eating Plate, can help to prevent nutritional deficits in several areas.
- Supplementing with vitamins and minerals may be beneficial in filling dietary deficits in certain situations.
- People living in low-income homes, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, babies and toddlers, and the seriously ill are just a few of the populations that are most vulnerable.
- With growing age, the immune response normally diminishes due to a decrease in the quantity and quality of immune cells in the body.
- Furthermore, around one-third of the elderly in developed nations suffer from nutritional inadequacies.
- Diet diversity may also be restricted owing to money restrictions or a lack of interest in cooking for one person; poor dental health; mental disability; or a lack of transportation and community resources to access nutritious foods, among other factors.
- Megadose supplements (several times the recommended daily allowance) do not appear to be warranted, and they can be detrimental or even depress the immune system in rare cases (e.g., as with zinc).
It is important to remember that vitamin supplements should not be regarded a substitute for a healthy diet because no supplement can provide all of the nutritional advantages of whole foods.
A number of herbal supplements have been recommended to help improve immune function. What has been discovered through research?
- Echinacea: Although cell studies have demonstrated that echinacea can kill influenza viruses, little human research has been equivocal in establishing the active components of echinacea. Echinacea does not appear to reduce the length of a cold after it has been contracted, but taking it when healthy may provide a modest possibility of protection against acquiring one. Onion: Although the active element in onion, allicin sativum, is thought to have antiviral and antibacterial benefits on the common cold, there are no high-quality scientific research comparing garlic supplements to a placebo for this condition. Following a study of 146 participants, the Cochrane Collaboration identified just one trial of moderate quality. Those who took the garlic supplement for three months saw fewer incidences of the common cold than those who took a placebo
- Nonetheless, once infected with the cold virus, both groups experienced sickness for a same length of time. It is important to note that these results are from a single study and that they must be reproduced. Green tea catechins:Cell studies have shown that catechins present in tea, such as those found in green tea, can inhibit the replication of influenza and some cold viruses, as well as stimulate the immune system. Human experiments are still in their infancy. In two randomized controlled trials, it was shown that green tea capsules reduced the severity of cold/flu symptoms and the incidence of flu when compared to a placebo
- However, both studies were financed by or had author links with the tea industry.
8 Steps to Help Support a Healthy Immune System
- Consume a well-balanced diet consisting of entire fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of water on a daily basis. An example of a diet that contains these sorts of foods is the Mediterranean Diet. If a well-balanced diet is not easily available, taking a multivitamin that contains the recommended daily allowances for numerous nutrients may be beneficial. Don’t smoke (or, if you do, put it out of your mind)
- Consume alcoholic beverages in moderation
- Exercise on a moderate to frequent basis
- Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep every night on a regular basis. Make an effort to maintain a regular sleep routine, waking up and going to bed at around the same time each day. A constant sleep schedule helps to maintain a normal circadian rhythm, which allows us to sleep for longer periods of time and wake up feeling refreshed. A consistent sleep schedule also helps us to sleep for longer periods of time and wake up feeling refreshed. Attempt to keep tension under control. However, finding healthy solutions that work for you and your lifestyle is more difficult than it appears. These tactics might include exercise, meditation, a specific interest, or simply talking to a trusted friend about your concerns and those of others. Practice regular, aware breathing throughout the day and whenever emotions of stress develop as another suggestion. It doesn’t have to be for long
- Simply a few deep breaths can be beneficial. To get you started, try this brief mindful breathing practice
- It will help you relax. When you come in from outside, before and after preparing and eating meals, after using the bathroom, after coughing or blowing your nose, you should wash your hands throughout the day.
The COVID-19 pandemic is causing a wide range of distinct and individual consequences, ranging from food insecurity to income interruptions to mental suffering and everything in between. For further information and discussion on how to cope through this tough time, please read Harvard Chan’s series of weekly interactive online forums on the subject. During COVID-19, there will be a focus on food safety, nutrition, and wellness. Inquire with an Expert: The importance of food and nutritional supplements during COVID-19 is discussed in detail in the following references:
- Childs CE, Calder PC, and Miles EA were the authors of this paper. Food Intake and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2019 Aug 16
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- Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a gatekeeper of immunological function. Molendijk I, van der Marel S, Maljaars PW, et al. Nutrients. 2017 Dec
- Molendijk I, van der Marel S, Maljaars PW. Nutritional Immunologic Modulation Through Diet: A Step Towards a Food Pharmacy. Nutrients. 2019 Jun
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- Hemilä H, Louhiala P. Vitamin C is useful in the prevention and treatment of pneumonia. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews) is a resource for systematic reviews. Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, Greenberg L, Aloia JF, Bergman P, Dubnov-Raz G, Esposito S, Ganmaa D, Ginde AA, Goodall EC
- Martineau AR, Jolliffe DA, Hooper RL, Greenberg L, Aloia JF, Bergman P, Dubnov-Raz G, Esposito S, Ganmaa A comprehensive review and meta-analysis of individual participant data found that vitamin D administration can help reduce acute respiratory tract infections (ARDIs). BMJ 2017 Feb 15
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- Karsch-Völk M, Barrett B, Kiefer D, Bauer R, Ardjomand-Woelkart K, Linde K. Karsch-Völk M, Barrett B, Kiefer D, Bauer R, Ardjomand-Woelkart K, Linde K. Echinacea has been shown to be effective in both avoiding and treating the common cold. Lissiman E, Bhasale AL, Cohen M, et al., Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2014(2)
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The information on this website is provided solely for educational reasons and is not meant to be a source of personal medical advice. If you have any questions about a medical problem, you should seek the counsel of your physician or another trained health care practitioner as soon as possible. Because of whatever you’ve read on this website, you should never dismiss competent medical advice or put off obtaining it altogether. Nutrition Source does not suggest or support any particular product or service.
15 foods to boost the immune system
A nutritious, well-balanced diet is critical to maintaining good health. The following foods may be beneficial in strengthening the immune system:
Pin it to your Pinterest board. Blueberries are high in antioxidants, which may help to strengthen the immune system. In blueberries, you’ll find a type of flavonoid known as anthocyanin, which has antioxidant characteristics that can assist to enhance the immune system of those who consume it. According to a study published in 2016, flavonoids are critical components of the immune defense mechanism of the respiratory tract. Researchers discovered that those who consumed foods high in flavonoids were less likely than those who did not to get an upper respiratory tract infection, sometimes known as a common cold.
2. Dark chocolate
Dark chocolate includes an antioxidant known as theobromine, which may assist to enhance the immune system by shielding the body’s cells from free radicals. Theobromine is found in high concentrations in dark chocolate. Free radicals are molecules that are produced by the body when it breaks down food or comes into touch with harmful substances such as pollution. Free radicals can cause cell damage in the body and may even be a contributing factor to illness. Despite its potential health advantages, dark chocolate has a large amount of calories and saturated fat, making it vital to consume it in small amounts.
Turmeric is a bright yellow spice that is widely used in cuisine by many people. It can also be found in several complementary and alternative medications. Turmeric use may help to boost a person’s immunological response. This is because curcumin, a chemical found in turmeric, has beneficial properties. Curcumin possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, according to a 2017 study.
4. Oily fish
fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, pilchards, and other oily fish are known as omega-3 fatty acids.
It has been shown in 2014 that regular consumption of omega-3 fatty acids may lower the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Inflammatory arthritis (RA) is a chronic inflammatory illness that develops when the immune system erroneously targets a healthy portion of the body.
fatty acids found in oily fish such as salmon, tuna, pilchards, and other types of oily fish are known as omega-3 fatty acids. According to a 2014 study, long-term use of omega-3 fatty acids may lower the chance of developing rheumatoid arthritis. (RA). An immune system attack on a healthy area of the body results in the development of RA, which is a chronic autoimmune illness.
6. Sweet potatoes
Among the nutrients found in sweet potatoes is beta carotene, a type of antioxidant that contributes to the orange color of the potatoes’ skin. Vitamin A may be obtained from beta carotene. It contributes to the health of the skin and may even give some protection against skin damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation.
Spinach may help to strengthen the immune system since it includes a variety of vital nutrients and antioxidants, such as: Dietary supplements containing vitamins C and E can aid in the strengthening of the immune system. In addition, research suggests that flavonoids may be beneficial in the prevention of the common cold in otherwise healthy adults.
Supplementing with vitamins C and E can assist in boosting one’s immunity. In addition, research suggests that flavonoids may be beneficial in the prevention of the common cold in otherwise healthy individuals.
Using garlic as a preventative measure for colds and other illnesses is a classic home treatment. Researchers investigated whether consuming garlic supplements containing allicin lowered the likelihood of acquiring a cold in one study. More than twice as many colds were reported between the people who took aplacebo and those who took garlic supplements, according to the results of the study. The researchers, on the other hand, came to the conclusion that additional study is needed to discover whether or not garlic can aid to avoid the common cold.
10. Green tea
Because green tea has just a trace amount of caffeine, it can be used as a substitute for black tea or coffee by those who like it. It may also help to improve the immune system when consumed. Green tea, like blueberries, includes flavonoids, which may help to lessen the likelihood of getting a cold.
Kefir is a fermented drink that includes living cultures of bacteria that are good to one’s health. It is made from milk and yogurt. According to preliminary findings, consuming kefir may help to strengthen the immune system. According to a 2017 study, different research have demonstrated that frequent use of kefir can help with the following conditions:
- Bacterial resistance, inflammation reduction, and antioxidant activity increase are all goals.
This is supported by a large body of research that has been conducted on animals or in a laboratory environment. Researchers will need to conduct further research to fully understand how kefir may be used to prevent sickness in people.
12. Sunflower seeds
When added to salads or breakfast bowls, sunflower seeds are a delicious complement.
They have a high concentration of vitamin E, which is an antioxidant. As with other antioxidants, vitamin E helps to strengthen the function of the immune system. It accomplishes this by combating free radicals, which are capable of causing cell damage.
In addition to almonds, which are a fantastic source of vitamin E, Aside from that, they are high in manganese, magnesium, and fiber. A modest handful or a quarter cup of almonds is a nutritious snack that may have immune-boosting properties.
14. Oranges or kiwifruit (kiwis)
When it comes to vitamin C, oranges and kiwis are wonderful choices. Vitamin C is the vitamin that many people reach for when they suspect a cold is coming on. While scientists are still trying to figure out precisely how vitamin C works, they do believe that it may help to shorten the length of typical cold symptoms and increase the performance of the immune system.
15. Red bell pepper
When it comes to vitamin C, oranges and kiwis are wonderful choices. Vitamin C is the vitamin that many people reach for when they suspect a cold is on the way. The mechanism by which vitamin C works is still being investigated, although it appears to shorten the duration of typical cold symptoms and enhance the function of the human immune system.
- When it comes to vitamin C, oranges and kiwis are good sources. Vitamin C is the vitamin that many people turn to when they feel a cold coming on. The mechanism by which vitamin C works is still being investigated, although it appears to shorten the duration of typical cold symptoms and increase the performance of the human immune system.
People’s immune systems may be strengthened and their capacity to fight infections may be improved by consuming the 15 immune-boosting foods discussed in this article, which include Having said that, it is critical to recognize that the immune system is a complicated mechanism. Eating a nutritious, well-balanced diet is only one of the many ways to promote immunological health. It is also critical to be cognizant of other aspects of one’s lifestyle that may have an impact on immune system function, such as physical activity and quitting smoking.
How to use food to boost your immune system
(CNN) Do you want to protect yourself against infectious infections during winter? Consider eating foods that are high in nutrients to help strengthen your immune system. “What we eat has a significant impact on how our immune system responds to pathogens and how well it is able to defend itself against a pathogen,” said Dr. Simin Meydani, senior scientist and team leader at Tufts University’s Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, which studies nutritional immunology. Micronutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B complex, zinc, and selenium can help “pump up” the body’s defenses against colds, flu, and even Covid-19, according to Meydani.
Forget about concentrating on “superfoods.” According to nutrition expert Christopher Gardner of the Stanford School of Medicine, a wide diversity of meals is required to deliver the micronutrients the body need to generate a powerful cellular immune response to pathogens.
Also made up of plants and grains include the Mediterranean diet, which is well regarded, as well as the DASH diet, which stands for “dietary methods to control hypertension,” or high blood pressure.
Numerous studies have discovered that following a Mediterranean diet helps lower the risk of high cholesterol, dementia, memory loss, depression, and breast cancer.
The sun-drenched Mediterranean region’s cuisine has also been linked to stronger bones, a healthier heart, and a longer life span. Oh, and it’s beneficial for weight reduction as well.
An overall picture
According to Meydani, the extent to which you can boost your immunity with nutrition is dependent on your age, overall health, and stress levels, among other factors. Keeping a healthy weight and stress levels under control, as well as getting adequate sleep and regular exercise are all vital for keeping those natural defenses in fighting form. In the absence of a healthy baseline, your body will be forced to work harder in order to punch off intruders – and it may even lose the game. According to Dr.
Pump up the volume
Meydani suggested that if you want to optimize the influence of food on your immune system, you should drastically increase the number of fruits and vegetables you consume each day. Her research team looked into immunological responses in animals that were given two to three servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and compared them to animals that were fed five to six servings per day or eight to nine servings per day of fruits and vegetables. According to Meydani, “the eight to nine servings a day were the ones where we saw the most improvement.” “It is not enough to just raise consumption by a small amount; it is necessary to dramatically increase intake.
The consumption of 10 pieces of fruits and vegetables per day, according to a 2017 study, was associated with a substantial reduction in the risk of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and early mortality.
Despite this, research conducted by the United States Department of Agriculture discovered that the average American consumes just 0.9 cups of fruit and 1.4 cups of vegetables each day.
According to a 2017 research, one in every five fatalities worldwide – or around 11 million people – is caused by excessive salt intake and a lack of whole grains, fruit, nuts, and seeds.
Besides the nutritional value of fruits and vegetables, another reason to load your plate with a variety of them is the necessity to limit your body’s inflammatory reaction to germs and viruses. As Meydani explained, “a certain level of inflammation is required to clear the body of infections and to assist the body’s immune system in performing its duty.” “However, if you create an excessive amount of inflammatory components, it might be harmful to the surrounding tissues. It has the potential to trigger autoimmune disorders.
Extreme inflammatory responses to the virus, referred to as “cytokine storms,” have been related to more severe episodes of Covid-19, as well as mortality in certain instances.
The unfortunate reality is that the modern Western diet is packed with highly processed, fat-laden meals, sugary beverages, red and processed meats, all of which have the potential to induce consistently high levels of inflammation in the body.
One study found that a 10 percent increase in consumption of such foods was significantly associated with a 14 percent increased risk of death from all causes.
“We observed a reduction in (approximately) 19 inflammatory markers in the study participants who consumed fermented foods for 10 weeks,” said Stanford’s Gardner, who co-authored a recent study.
Are supplements needed?
The human body, like any other animal, is designed to absorb nutrients from unprocessed fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and proteins more efficiently than nutrients from processed meals or supplements, just as any other mammal is. People with limited access to healthy food options, those with particular medical issues, and those over the age of 65 may, on the other hand, need to concentrate on supplementing their diet with certain micronutrients. “I’m not talking about the fragile elderly who are confined to their homes,” Meydani said.
Certain nutritional supplementation, I believe, might be really beneficial for them.”
The role of zinc
The majority of individuals in the United States obtain sufficient zinc from their diets. However, according to a research conducted by Meydani’s team, older persons with low serum zinc levels experienced double the amount of pneumonia and had a longer duration of pneumonia and antibiotic usage than those with acceptable amounts of the mineral. According to an analysis of 13 studies, taking zinc lozenges during the early stages of a cold or flu, such as the first 24 hours, may help to enhance the immune system and shorten the length of the illness by around a day, according to the researchers.
It is also possible that zinc can interfere with the effectiveness of antibiotics or negatively interact with some blood pressure and rheumatoid arthritis treatments, so consult your doctor before include it in your daily routine.
The mineral selenium
Selenium is a naturally occurring mineral that may be found in soil and absorbed by plants. It is vital in the regulation of inflammation and immunity. Immune cells must be activated in order for us to benefit from the mineral. Additionally, it appears to have the ability to suppress the inflammatory response. The majority of Americans obtain enough selenium through their diet – it may be found in fish, meat, chicken, eggs, dairy products, breads, cereals, and nuts, particularly Brazil nuts, which can contain up to 91 mcg of selenium per ounce.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, taking too much of a supplement can cause nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, loss of hair or nails, discolored teeth, irritability, and nervous system disorders.
Some benefits from vitamin C
Since its discovery in the 1950s, vitamin C has been studied extensively for its immune-boosting properties. Clinical trials are presently being conducted to determine the influence of vitamin C infusions on the severity of Covid-19.
The majority of people think that vitamin C strengthens the immune system and helps to prevent colds. Although studies have found just a little favorable impact when compared to a placebo, some experts are reluctant to shout its praises because of the limited evidence available.
Dual properties of vitamin E
Vitamin E has the potential to serve two functions in the body’s immunological response. Within the body, it functions as an antioxidant, aiding in the protection of cells against the harm produced by free radicals. According to Meydani, “Vitamin E can have an anti-inflammatory impact, but it can also improve your cell-mediated immunity in some populations.” Vegetable oils such as sunflower and safflower, nuts such as peanuts, hazelnuts, and almonds, seeds, and wheat germ are some of the greatest sources of vitamin E available.
“According to our research, the best dosage was 200 international units each day,” Meydani explained.
This is simply not true.
The sunshine vitamin
According to Meydani, the evidence for vitamin D’s immune-boosting qualities is divided, just as the data for vitamin C. It is impossible to conclude that increasing the amount of vitamin D in the bloodstream will increase your immune response or help you fight respiratory infections, she added. “Some studies have demonstrated some benefit, while others have not been able to substantiate these findings.” Because vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight, those with darker complexion or who live in places with little sunlight, as well as the elderly and exclusively breastfed newborns, may be deficient and require a daily vitamin D supplement.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, “Vitamin D toxicity nearly invariably arises as a result of abuse of supplements.” In addition to nausea and vomiting, other signs of poisoning include a lack of appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss.” Although it is very early in the investigation, experts are looking at the relationship between vitamin D and Covid-19.
The anti-inflammatory characteristics of vitamin D appear to be the most promising; it is hoped that supplementation will dampen any overactive immunological response to the virus that may occur.
Meydani noted that, like vitamin C, there is conflicting information about vitamin D’s immune-boosting characteristics.
Because vitamin D is produced by the body in response to sunlight, those with darker complexion or who live in places with little sunlight, as well as the elderly and exclusively breastfed newborns, may be deficient and need take a daily supplement of the vitamin D.
According to the National Institutes of Health’s Office of Dietary Supplements, “Vitamin D toxicity nearly invariably arises as a result of excessive supplementation.” “Nausea, vomiting, low appetite, constipation, weakness, and weight loss are all symptoms of poisoning.” The relationship between vitamin D and Covid-19 is currently being investigated by experts, who are still in the preliminary stages.
The anti-inflammatory characteristics of vitamin D appear to be the most promising; it is hoped that supplementation will dampen any overactive immune response to the virus that may result.
Covid-19-induced “cytokine storms,” in which the immune system goes crazy and overwhelms the body, are one of the most common causes of mortality associated with the disease.
Boost Your Immunity with Food
With the breakout of COVID-19, it is more important than ever to develop measures to strengthen our immune systems to the greatest extent feasible. In order to preserve your health and wellness, you need ensure that you consume a diet that is strong in immune-boosting elements. When nutrients are obtained from whole food sources such as fruits and vegetables rather than processed meals or supplements, your body is better equipped to utilise and absorb them. The importance of including a mix of these foods and nutrients in your diet is far more important than concentrating on just one or two in high quantities.
1.Vitamin C – Citrus FruitsGreens
Consuming foods high in vitamin C, such as grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, sweet red pepper, broccoli, strawberries, kale, and kiwifruit, is thought to increase white blood cell production, which is important in fighting infection. Vitamin C is found in a variety of foods, including citrus fruits, vegetables, and grains.
2.Beta-Carotene – Root VegetablesGreens
In the body, beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A, which is an anti-inflammatory vitamin that can aid your immune system in responding to pathogens such as viruses. Among the many foods that contain beta-carotene are carrots, spinach and kale, apricots, sweet potatoes, squash, and melon. Due to the fact that vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, ingesting meals high in healthy fats will help to increase its absorption. The combination of carrots and classic hummus, as well as a spinach salad with avocado or olive oil in the dressing, would be particularly immune-boosting.
3.Vitamin E – Nuts, SeedsGreens
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in the regulation and maintenance of immune system functions. Nuts, seeds, avocado, and spinach are some of the foods that are high in vitamin E.
4.Antioxidants – Green Tea
Green tea contains a high concentration of antioxidants, which have been demonstrated to improve the function of the immune system. Also contained inside this supplement are amino acids, which may aid in the creation of germ-fighting substances by your T-cells, so reducing inflammation in the body and aiding in the battle against infection. Green tea can be drunk hot, chilled, or in powder form as matcha.
5.Vitamin D – Sunshine, FishEggs
Vitamin D is required for proper immune function and assists in the regulation of the body’s immunological response. Salmon, canned tuna, egg yolks, and mushrooms are all good sources of vitamin D, as is cod liver oil. It is also possible for your body to manufacture vitamin D with just 13-15 minutes of sunlight three times a week.
6.Probiotics, Gut HealthImmunity
Fermented soybeans (tempeh), yogurt, Kombucha, sauerkraut, Kimchi, pickles, yogurt, Kombucha, and some varieties of cheese all contain living cultures, often known as probiotics, which are supposed to activate the immune system and aid in the prevention and treatment of disease. Your digestive system’s microbiome, or “good bacteria,” influences how other nutrients and bad bacteria are handled in your body, making probiotics one of the most critical components of your immune system’s performance.
The microbiome aids in the digestion of the nutrients discussed throughout the remainder of this article, as well as serving as an additional barrier against dangerous bacteria and fungus.
7.Garlic – T-Cell Booster
Garlic includes components that assist the immune system in combating germs in a number of ways, including activating cells that are vital in disease prevention and regulation, as well as helping to maintain immune system balance. Additionally, it aids in boosting the development of virus fighting T lymphocytes while also lowering stress hormone production in the body, all of which contribute to keeping your immune system running at peak performance.
8.Vitamin B-6 – Lymphatic System BoostRed Blood Cells
Vitamin B-6 is necessary for the production of new and healthy red blood cells, as well as for the proper functioning of the lymphatic system. Chicken, turkey, cold-water fish (such as salmon and tuna), chickpeas (such as traditional hummus), bananas, fortified morning cereal, and nutritional yeast are all excellent sources of vitamin B-6 in the diet.
9.Water – HydrationImmunity
Water aids in the production of lymph, which is responsible for transporting white blood cells and other immune system cells throughout the body. It is possible to consume a lot of water by eating items such as cucumbers, melons, and celery in moderation. If you have trouble drinking ordinary water, consider a cup of green tea with lemon, watermelon, cucumber, or mint-infused water for a beverage that is high in antioxidants and immune system boosters. Remember that maintaining sufficient hydration will make it simpler for immune-boosting nutrients to reach the locations where they are needed (cells) in your body.
10.Zinc – Shellfish, Poultry, and Beans
Immune system cells require zinc in order to perform their functions properly. Zinc is a trace mineral that our bodies do neither store or create on their own. While oysters have the greatest zinc level of any meal, there are numerous additional possibilities, including shellfish (crab, clam, lobster, and mussels), poultry (chicken or turkey), red meat, and beans. Oysters have the highest zinc content of any food. Zinc can also be present in fortified cereals and certain breads, although animal-based diets provide the highest absorption of the mineral zinc.
As you analyze this information, you might want to think about incorporating the practice of mindful eating into your overall strategy.
This exercise can also aid in the reduction of stress, which can have a negative impact on your immune system.
You may be surprised at what you discover. Mindful eating is a discipline that encourages us to slow down, be present in the moment, and reconnect with the food that nourishes our bodies. “Welcome to the table!”