Severe winter might be over, but the corona virus pandemic won’t leave us any room for complacency. There is no doubt that regular hand washing and staying at home are necessary weapons to limit the spread of corona virus. But correct nutrition acts as an ally , by boosting your immune system .
Let’s take things from the beginning.
How does your immune system work
Think of the immune system as your body’s guardians. Our immune system provides protection against any “foreign organism” (eg bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi) that can enter our body and cause any harm .
The immune system is a wide networg of organs, proteins and cells, such as skin, bone marroe, blood and mucosal tissue, that unite their forces, to distinguise helthy cells from the not-so-healthy ones.
When a germ enters our body, the immune system signals that something is wrong. So, it responds by sending white blood cells (or immune system cells) – the first line of body defense – to attack and destroy anything it perceives as dangerous.
How does nutrition works for the immune system
White blood cells play a basic role in the body’s defence, along with some food nutrients that are necessary for the fuctions linked with them. For example, antioxidants , such as vitamins A, C, E and selenium, block the free readicals that enter or are produced by the body, making cells more susceptible to infections and viruses. Polyunsaturated fatty acids help the immune system function properly, while folic acid deficiency has been linked to impaired leukocyte growth.
The basic rules for a diet that shields the body’s defence
By increasing our consumption of fruits and vegetables.
We make sure to eat at least 1 large salad and 2 to 3 fruits daily.
Especially at this time, we avoid extreme diets that deprive the body of important nutrients by weakening it.
We choose fatty fish (eg salmon, cod, mackerel) and seafood at least twice a week.
We are increasing the consumption of grains and whole grains.
We increase the consumption of nuts such as almonds and Brazilian peanuts.
We choose vegetable oils for eating and cooking, such as olive oil.
We stay hydrated by drinking plenty of liquids (water, fruit and vegetable juices, natural herbs).
Which ingredients boost the body
The main components for boosting the immune system are:
Vitamin A. It is found in dairy products, butter, egg, liver, carrots and sweet potatoes.
Vitamins B12, B6, folic acid. They are found in milk, meat, liver, nuts, cereals and yellow fruits.
Vitamin C. Citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, peppers, spinach, broccoli and tomatoes are good sources.
Vitamin E. Olive oil, seafood, oats, almonds and hazelnuts are rich in vitamin E.
Magnesium. It is found in whole grains, sesame, nuts, legumes, dairy and tuna.
Selenium. It is found in meats, seafood, nuts and whole grains.
Iron. Good sources are liver, meat, eggs, seafood, whole grains and nuts.
Zinc. It is found in seafood, fish, eggs and meat.
Omega 3 fatty acids. They are mainly found in vegetable oils, fatty fish and nuts.
What other foods boost the immune system
Onion contains an anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial substance, quercetin, while garlic (when consumed in large quantities) has antimicrobial properties and appears to stimulate leucocyte production thanks to its alisine content
Rich in probiotics, dairy products, such as yogurt and kefir, help maintain the balance of the intestinal microbial flora, thereby enhancing one of the body’s main lines of defense.
Proteins of animal origin (eg those containing red meat, chicken and fish) are the raw material for the body to produce antibodies
The vitamins and foods mentioned above are not “magic foods” and do not act in isolation but as part of a balanced diet rich in fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, olive oil and dairy products.