Chapter 2: Nutrition for Your Immune System
We’ve all heard the saying “you are what you eat”. This is especially true when it comes to your immune system. Research has shown that if you eat well, your immune system will benefit.
Your immune system needs good nutrition to function properly, and if you’re malnourished, deficient in micro nutrients, or don’t get enough of the right kinds of food to keep you healthy, not only will your overall well-being suffer but your immunity will take a nosedive too. People who eat a poor-quality diet are unable to maintain a healthy immune system. As a result, they have a greater chance of developing ongoing health issues as well as short-term illnesses.
You are not only putting yourself at risk of coughs, colds, flu, and other relatively minor conditions, but you’re also more likely to develop more serious medical problems like diabetes, hypertension or cancer. Therefore, knowing the link between nutrition and immunity is imperative so that you can take action to improve your diet and, therefore, your overall well-being.
Malnourishment and its Role in low Immunity
If your body isn’t receiving enough nutrition, the number of white blood cells decreases, and this makes it hard to fight illnesses and heal diseases.
When you are experiencing malnutrition, your body cannot recover fully as wounds require protein, energy, minerals, and vitamins to fully heal. Also, if you’re malnourished you are at a higher risk of cancer and will struggle to tolerate the chemotherapy necessary to treat it. Of course, if you’re malnourished you will also be at a higher risk of infections and illnesses.
While we tend to think of malnourishment as something that only occurs in developing countries, in fact, there are surprising numbers of people in the USA and other developed nations who are malnourished due to a lack of appropriate nutrients in their diet. While they may physically eat sufficient food, unfortunately, they don’t choose the right foods to give them the nutrition that they need. Choosing food that is processed, packed with sugars and fats or artificial ingredients is a sure-fire way to become malnourished over time.
You may believe that you couldn’t possibly be suffering from malnutrition because you’re eating three meals a day, but if the content of those three meals aren’t well-balanced and don’t contain the right components, you may as well be starving yourself.
The human body requires both macro nutrients and micro nutrients to achieve optimal health and well-being. As you might guess from their name, macro nutrients need to be consumed in larger amounts than micro nutrients. The human body only requires a small amount of micro nutrients to function well.
These minerals and vitamins only need to be consumed in tiny volumes. However, if you don’t get those small amounts, you are at a much greater risk of disease, and your immune system will certainly feel the negative impact. Therefore, it’s essential to make sure that you’re choosing foods that contain plenty of the essential minerals, vitamins and micronutrients to stay fit and healthy and to keep your immunity at the optimal level.
There are close to 30 minerals and vitamins that cannot be manufactured by the body in sufficient amounts. These are known as essential micro nutrients. If you don’t eat enough foods that contain key minerals, vitamins and other compounds, you are at a higher risk of some major illnesses like cancer, type II diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.
The best way of ensuring you’re getting enough micro nutrients is to eat a well-balanced diet that contains lots of legumes, vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean protein sources together with healthy fats like olive oil and nuts.
There are five essential micro nutrients that have key roles to play in maintaining your immunity. These are vitamin C, vitamin C6, vitamin E, zinc and magnesium. They can be added to your diet in many ways:
· Vitamin B6 – eat more chicken, bananas, cereals, potatoes with the skin on and pork loin
· Vitamin C – eat citrus fruits, tomatoes, kiwi fruits, broccoli, and sweet peppers
· Vitamin E – eat sunflower oil and seeds, safflower oil, almonds, and peanut butter
· Magnesium – eat seeds, nuts, legumes, and whole wheat
· Zinc – eat beef shank, dark turkey meat and oysters
An Overview of Super foods
In recent years, you may have heard about super foods in the media. These foods are touted as the newest and best thing when it comes to keeping yourself in optimal condition. You can keep your body healthy and energized by eating super foods that are known to improve your immunity, but what are these super foods, and what do they do to help boost your overall health and well-being?
Super foods are foods that are known to contain an especially high amount of minerals, antioxidants, and vitamins. With such a high nutrient concentration, this makes them ideal for improving your immunity. The components that they contain all work together to give your immune system valuable assistance so that it can function at the highest possible level.
Some of the super foods that are known to boost your immune system include:
· Goji berries
· Chia seeds
Of course, these aren’t the only super foods out there, but they are among the ones that have been shown in scientific research to have a positive impact on your overall health, well-being and immunity.
By adding some or all of the above foods into your daily diet, it’s possible to give your immune system a little extra assistance to do its job and to combat the invading threats that it encounters in the form of bacteria and viruses every day. With this additional power, it can keep you healthier for longer, and make sure that you don’t succumb to illnesses that could make you unwell either in the short or long term.