Updated: Jun 27, 2020
Our immune system is our little personal army of warriors to protect from infections. They are the first line of defence and conquer the invading pathogens or infections in order to keep us safe.
Some nutrients which are especially beneficial for our immune system are discussed below:
One of the most popular nutrients when it comes to fighting infections is Vitamin C. It supports the function of various immune cells and enhances their ability to protect against infection. It also has an important role in clearing out old worn out cells and replacing them with new ones thereby keeping the immune system healthy. It also functions as a powerful antioxidant, protecting against damage induced by oxidative stress, which occurs with the accumulation of reactive molecules known as free radicals.
Good sources of Vitamin C are Amla (Indian Gooseberry), Oranges, Lemons, Sweet lime, Strawberries, Capsicum or bell peppers (All colours), Cauliflower, Broccoli and kale to name a few.
Vitamin D is an essential fat-soluble nutrient which is crucial for calcium assimilation as well as smooth functioning of the immune system. It is also known to enhance pathogen-fighting effects of monocytes and macrophages and decrease inflammation, which helps promote immune response.
Good sources of Vitamin D are Sunlight (our bodies can naturally make Vitamin D from sunlight), Mushrooms (as they too have the ability to synthesise Vitamin D from sunlight), milk, dairy products, yogurt, eggs, fatty fish, salmon, canned tuna, cod liver oil, oysters and fortified foods.
Vitamin E, a potent lipid-soluble antioxidant, found in higher concentration in immune cells compared to other cells in blood, is one of the most effective nutrients known to modulate immune function. Vitamin E modulates T cell function through directly impacting T cell membrane integrity and also indirectly by affecting inflammatory mediators generated from other immune cells. Modulation of immune function by vitamin E has clinical relevance as it affects host susceptibility to infectious diseases such as respiratory infections and fights off infections.
Good sources of Vitamin E are nuts and oilseeds like wheat germ oil, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower seeds, spinach, avocado, kiwis, broccoli to name a few.
Vitamin A/ Carotenoids
Vitamin A is usually well known for a healthy vision and eye health is also now known as an anti-inflammation vitamin because of its critical role in enhancing the immune function. It is actively involved in the development of the immune system and plays regulatory roles in cellular immune responses which fights off infection.
Carotenoids, which are a precursor to Vitamin A, are also known for their antioxidant properties. They potentially reduce the toxic effects of ROS or free radicals which have been known to be contributing factor in diseases like cancer, heart ailments, neurodegenerative diseases as well as aging.
It is needed for immune cell development and communication plus plays an important role in inflammatory response thereby an important micronutrient for strong immunity.
Good sources of Zinc are meat, shellfish, oysters, legumes and seeds.
Selenium has been noted to have a significant influence on both types of immunity. B and T-lymphocytes are the major cells responsible for the immune functions.
Some good sources are nuts and oilseeds including brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, grains, eggs, mushrooms, shellfish, meat and fish.
The beneficial effects of probiotics on our general wellbeing and gut health cannot be undermined. But research also suggests that they play a major role in keeping our immune health robust. They give our immunity a boost by specially inhibiting the growth of harmful gut bacteria and promoting good bacteria. Additionally some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body.
Good sources of probiotics are dahi, yogurt, curd, kefir, fermented foods which contain lactic acid bacteria like kimchi , sauerkraut, tempeh, nato to name a few.
The recipe guide has numerous immunity boosting recipes for you to savour.
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