Immune System Boosting Foods. How to improve your immune system
Why is the Immune System Important?
Random question; Would you ever leave your house door unlocked or even unclosed before going to bed or leaving home?
The obvious answer is no. This is because we do not want unwanted substances entering our homes without our permission. In the same way, the body has a unique way of keeping foreign and unwanted substances away from the body. It has a way of defending the body against attacks from these unwanted substances.
In the body, the immune system is primarily responsible for protecting the body against unwanted substances.
In simple terms, the immune system is a network of cells, tissues and organs in the body that work together to help protect the body from unwanted substances. Some of these unwanted substances that may invade the body include microbes (germs), bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi. These substances that trigger a response from the immune system can be described as antigens.
In some abnormal conditions, the immune system can mistakenly attack the body’s healthy cells or tissues. This can result in autoimmune diseases. Some examples of autoimmune diseases include some forms of arthritis and diabetes.
In other conditions too, the immune system responds to a seemingly unharmful “foreign substance” such as pollen which may result in an allergy. This kind of antigen is called an allergen.
Parts of the Immune System
The organs that make up the immune system can be found throughout the body. These organs are called the lymphoid organs because they are host to the lymphocytes; white blood cells that are critical to the immune system. The Lymphocytes travel through the body using the blood vessels. This ensures that it reaches all parts of the body. They can also travel through the lymphatic vessels that closely parallel the body’s veins and arteries.
The parts of the immune system are
- Tonsils and adenoids
- Lymph nodes
- Lymphatic vessels
- Lymph nodes
- Peyer’s patches
- Bone marrow
Immune system boosting foods
Ever heard the saying “You are what you eat”? There is a direct relationship between our overall health status and the diets we consume. Like most parts of the body, the immune system requires vitamins and minerals to function properly. Some foods may help boost the immune system and others that may harm our immunity.
Consuming diets that are rich in immune boosting nutrients is the best way to ensure that the immune system remains healthy and fully functional. The body requires vitamins, proteins, etc daily as some of these vitamins cannot be stored in the body for long.
The primary source for these vitamins, proteins, etc should be from the food we eat.
Immune system supplements can also be an inexpensive way of filling any vitamin gaps we may have.
Fruits and vegetables are great immune system boosting foods as they mostly contain high amounts of vitamins and minerals that will help you meet the daily recommended values. Below are examples of immune system boosting foods that contain high proportions of nutrients to keep your immune system healthy.
Apples – “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. This immune system boosting food contains vitamin C, potassium, flavonoids, fiber and vitamin K. A study carried out by the University of Illinois reported that soluble fiber – found in oats, apples, and nuts – reduces the inflammation associated with obesity-related diseases and it also strengthens the immune system. Vitamin C’s also act as antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body.
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Blueberries – In an analysis of 446 compounds at the Oregon State University to understand the ability of how these compounds to boost the innate immune system in humans, it was discovered that only two stood out. Resveratrol from red grapes and a compound called pterostilbene from blueberries. Blueberries are a great source of vitamin C
Kiwis – Like most citrus fruits, Kiwis are known to have high Vitamin C contents. However, what makes this immune boosting food special is that per gram, it contains 10% more vitamin c than citrus fruits. Kiwis are also known to contain antioxidants that help protect the body from free radicals.
Almonds – Almonds are also immune system boosting foods. They are a great source of vitamin E as well as magnesium and fiber. They are also high in heart-healthy monosaturated fats which is important in helping support cardiovascular health. Vitamin E is the most important chain-breaking, lipid-soluble antioxidant present in body tissues of all cells and is considered the first line of defense against lipid peroxidation and it is important for the normal function of the immune cells. Besides its role as an immune system booster, Vitamin E plays an important role as an antioxidant
Other immune system boosting foods include
Most of these immune system boosting foods are rich in Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Zinc and Omega 3 fatty acids. All of these items are easily available from grocery stores and can easily be incorporated into our daily diets. For example, you can easily prepare a smoothie with apple, banana and kiwi at the start of your day. Such a smoothie will be super packed with nutrients that will help with your immunity.
Maintaining a healthy immune system requires the right diet. In addition to eating the right diet, getting enough sleep, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly all contribute to improving and boosting the immune system. The use of pure food supplements can also help in boosting the immune system.
DISCLAIMER: THIS SHOULD BE USED FOR INFORMATION AND EDUCATION PURPOSES. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO TREAT, DIAGNOSE OR PREVENT ANY DISEASE. WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO MAKE YOUR OWN HEALTH CARE DECISIONS BASED ON RESEARCH AND ADVICE FROM A QUALIFIED HEALTH CARE PROFESSIONAL
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Brown, E. and Hensley, K., 2012. Smoothies For Better Health. Beverly, Mass.: Fair Winds Press.