Give your immune system adequate nutrition to support your body's natural defenses
31 March 2020| Last updated on 2 April 2020
One of the easiest ways to protect your body's immunity is through what you eat... Here's what you need to know!
There are many nutrients that are involved in the regular functioning of the immune system and therefore eating a variety of healthy foods each day is important to support immune function.
Give your immune system adequate nutrition to support your body’s natural defenses.
Here are 5 easy steps to take to ensure your diet is giving your body what you need, thanks to Nadeen Taha RD at Mediclinic Dubai Mall and Mediclinic City Hospital.
1. Maintain a balanced diet
This means having a diet that has adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals from all food groups.
2. Increase your intake of fruits and vegetables
Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables provide nutrients that can support immune function, and are also rich in antioxidants, which can help reduce oxidative stress in your body. Examples of these are as follows:
- Beta-carotene: Beta-carotene is a powerful antioxidant that can reduce inflammation and regulate immune function, and protect against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth stomach, intestines, and respiratory system health. Excellent sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, and green leafy vegetables.
- Vitamins C and E: Vitamins C and E are antioxidants that help to destroy free radicals and support the body's natural immune responses. Sources of Vitamin C include citrus fruits, red bell peppers, papaya, and strawberries, amongst other fruits and vegetables. Vitamin E sources include nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils.
- Vitamin D: Studies suggest that vitamin D supplementation, especially in deficient people, may reduce the risk for respiratory tract infections. Food sources of vitamin D include fortified milks and supplements.
- Zinc: Zinc is essential for the normal development and function of cells mediating immunity which defend against pathogens. It can be found in beans, nuts, certain types of seafood, whole grains, and dairy products.
Obtaining these nutrients from foods is preferred, so be sure to speak with your health care provider or a clinical Dietician before choosing to take any supplements.
3. Make sure you consume adequate amounts of protein
This plays a role in the body's immune system in terms of healing and recovery. Eat a variety of protein rich foods including seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, soy products, and unsalted nuts and seeds.
4. Maintain a healthy weight
Obesity is associated with chronic inflammation and disrupts protective immunity. Over-nutrition that results in obesity has been linked to an increased risk for influenza and other infections such as pneumonia, with delayed antiviral responses and recovery.
5. Avoid under-nutrition/malnutrition
Under-nutrition is associated with immunosuppression, which can lead to an increased susceptibility to infection and protection against several types of autoimmune disease.
:: Proper hygiene is still necessary to help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others.