Immune system is the body’s frontline soldier and combats numerous invisible adversaries each day in your life. Many factors influence the immune system in an individual’s body including stress, sleep and nutrition.
The essence of a good immune system stems from consuming a well balanced and nutritious diet. This not only offers protection from seasonal illness but also from developing chronic and debilitating diseases. While certain diseases might not be preventable, consuming a nutritious diet fortifies the immune system and enables the body to fight back when affected.
The body’s first reaction to any pathogen (bacteria, virus and foreign agents etc.) is to produce defense cells called T cells. The body also simultaneously releases antioxidants to reduce the oxidative stress damage caused by these disease-causing agents. Studies show that a diet rich in vitamins and minerals in a balanced proportion ideally enhance the production of antioxidants and also the recruitment of the defense T cells.
A balanced nutrition is essential in promoting one’s health and there is enough scientific evidence to support that nutrition directly influences our body’s immunity.
Here are 11 Nutrients to boost Immunity in Adults:
- Protein is the blueprint of our cells hence it also essential in building up of antibodies and immune system cells. The major sources of protein are lean chicken, lean pork, fish, lean beef, tofu, beans, lentils, low-fat yogurt, milk, cheese, seeds, nuts, and eggs. The amino acids which are basic units of the proteins also play a role in building up the immune cells.
- Vitamin A is an immune system regulator it is essential for epithelial cell health such as tissues in the skin, mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system which are the primary physical barriers to any infection. Rich sources of Vitamin A are orange coloured fruits like papaya and vegetables like carrots.
- Vitamin C much like Vitamin A helps in building the health of connective tissue which is below the epithelium and acts as a barrier to entry of infections. Vitamin C protects cells including immune cells from oxidative damage being an important part of the antioxidant system. Rich sources of natural Vitamin C are citrus fruits.
- Vitamin E is another antioxidant that keeps cell membranes intact from damage from oxidation by free radicals. This is a major protection from invasive damage. The richest source of this vitamin is vegetable oils, nuts and seeds.
- Vitamin D is called the sunshine vitamin. It helps to activate immune cells and properly regulate their function in our body. It is also very important for bone health.
- Vitamin B12 plays an important role in white blood cell production, and white blood cells are essential for proper immune system functioning. The most common sources are green leafy vegetables. It also gets easily lost while cooking.
- Vitamin B6 Nutrient deficiencies, including B6, can disrupt the immune system. More specifically, a deficiency in B6 can result in the decreased production of antibodies needed to fight infections.
- Zinc is one of the unsung heroes that guard the body by synthesis of new immune cells as much as it is needed for new cell replication in the body. It helps in wound healing and repair. Milk and whole grains are a good source of Zinc.
- Fluids and Electrolytes: Consuming adequate fluids (water) and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride help regulate the body’s temperature.
- Folic acid and Iron Inadequate levels of folic acid and Iron can drastically alter immune responses by affecting the production of nucleic acid, protein synthesis, inhibiting the activity of immune cells.
- Antioxidants are the soldiers of the body against any cellular level damages. They also play a very important role in repair and regeneration.
When one’s body is deprived of any of the above-mentioned nutrients, they might fall into the risk of contracting infections and suffer from poor immune health. They might also take a prolonged time to heal from any infection when compared to someone who is well nourished.
Immunity is not built overnight. A consistent balanced diet and lifestyle changes are what will help boost it. Especially with chances of chronic diseases as one ages, building a strong immunity in your early years is pivotal. Our regular daily diet may or may not contain all the nutrients needed for healthy living. Drinking a supplement like Ensure is an effective and convenient way to provide the required complete balanced nutrition. It contains 11 immunity nutrients that help build new immunity cells in body to help improve immunity.
With the monsoons approaching and increased chances of spread of infections, adequate lifestyle changes are the key. Ensuring complete nutrition through the day and staying active can be a pivotal difference between a sick individual and a healthy one. Times are changing and so must our approach to a healthy lifestyle. Start with your plate of food as it’s the simplest but most precious gift you can give yourselves.
Marcos, A., Nova, E. & Montero, A (2003). Changes in the immune system are conditioned by nutrition. Eur J Clinical Nutrition 57, S66–S69
Cohen S, Danzaki K, MacIver NJ. Nutritional effects on T-cell immunometabolism. Eur J Immunol. 2017;47(2):225–235. doi:10.1002/eji.201646423