The immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. In order for it to function well, it requires balance and harmony. Researchers are still exploring the effects of diet, exercise, age, psychological stress, and other factors on the immune response.
In general, a healthy lifestyle is the single best step you can take toward naturally keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every system in your body, including the immune system, functions better when following balanced and healthy strategies such as:
- Eating a whole food diet with plenty of fruit and veg
- Exercising regularly
- Staying hydrated
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Getting enough sleep
- Reducing stress
- Drinking alcohol in moderation
- Not smoking
There is some evidence that various micronutrient deficiencies (think vitamins and minerals) could alter immune responses. However, the impact of these immune system changes on health is less clear, and the effects are yet to be assessed.
We will discuss the strategies in more detail over the next few days. Our focus today will begin with food intake.
Vitamins C and E:
Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body's natural immune response. So ,if you suspect you may have micronutrient deficiencies, make sure you eat avaried diet with ample amounts of fruit and vegetables or support yourself with a good quality multivitamin.
Vitamin C Sources:
- red bell peppers
Vitamin E Sources
Beta-caroteneis a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and boost immune function by increasing disease-fighting cells in the body.
- sweet potatoes
- green leafy vegetables
Zinc is a mineral that can help boost white blood cells, which defend againstinvaders.
- pumpkin seeds
- sesame seeds
Allicinis the principal bioactive compound present in the aqueous extract of garlic. When garlic is chopped or crushed, the alliinase enzyme is activated, andallicin is produced. When cooking with garlic, it is recommended to crush or chop it and leave for 10 mins for the enzyme to be activated.
The benefits of garlic to health has been proclaimed for centuries; however, only recently, it's been proposed as a promising candidate for maintaining a healthy immune system.
In our next post, we will feature a recipe with some of the foods mentioned above.