Immunity is strongly influenced by nutrition. The human body’s immune system is designed to protect against all organisms and toxins that can damage organs and tissues. The immune system eliminates threats using enzymes and other detoxifying methods. Maintaining and improving our health and immunity is essential.
It is important to understand the macro- and micronutrients of food in order to eat healthily. Obesity and excess or deficit of nutrition can damage our immune system.
Food is made up of macro- and micronutrients. Macronutrients such as carbohydrates and protein are required in greater quantities. Our body needs micronutrients in smaller amounts, such as vitamins and minerals. In order to maintain a balanced diet, you must consume the right amount of nutrients. It is important to consult a specialist as the amount of nutrients varies with each individual depending on their body type.
Some dietary guidelines:
Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals)and phytonutrients are found in fruits, vegetables, and greens. They also occur in nuts and whole grains.
The guidelines are
- These supplements enhance the immune system, both adaptive and native. They also prevent infection.
- They control inflammation, regulate the immune system and prevent tissue damage.
- Immune memory formation helps to prevent re-infection by the same pathogen.
- They can remove/scavenge large amounts of oxidant species, or toxins, produced by the body when it is infected and during the immune response.
- Increases in beneficial probiotic bacteria that promote good immune function reduce inflammation and increase the number of healthy bacteria in your intestine.
Micronutrients like Vitamins A, D, E, and Vitamin C and B and minerals, such as selenium and iron, copper, zinc, etc. For optimal immune function, phytonutrients, amino acids, and fatty acids are essential. These nutrients and phytonutrients also perform many other immune functions. Vitamin A, for example, maintains the structure of the epithelial mucosa of the respiratory tract and increases mucosal immune function (critical to the prevention of respiratory infections). Vitamin E, beta-carotene and vitamins C and B, Zinc, and Selenium are potent antioxidants that reduce oxidative stress.
Balance your diet to provide all the nutrients your body needs.
- Reduce the intake of highly processed food and opt for whole grains instead.
- Include whole grains and dals in your diet on a regular basis.
- You have to include milk and dairy products in your routine every day.
- Regular consumption of an egg is recommended.
- Moderation is allowed for meat and poultry.
- In your diet, include 4-5 servings each of fruits and vegetables.
- Avoid eating too much fat (3tsp/day is ideal – preferably more than two types of oils).
- Sal (no more than 5gm/person/day).
- Avoid carbonated drinks, packaged juices, and other products that are high in sugar and low in nutrients.
- Sugar has no nutritional value, so keep your intake to a minimum.
- Maintain an ideal body weight. Underweight, overweight, or obese – both impair immunity and increase inflammation.
- To boost your immune system, keep yourself hydrated by drinking enough water.
Too little or too much of anything can make you more susceptible to infection. Following a healthy, balanced diet will help maintain immunity.
Avoid smoking and alcohol, as they can negatively affect your immunity. They also increase the severity and risk of infection.
Immunity is affected by many factors:
- Gut-health diet
- Exercise and Stress
- Rest and sleep
- Maintain hygiene
Gut Health and Immunity:
The gut is the first line of defense against disease. Taking care of your gut health will help you maintain your immunity. According to research, “the Microbiome” is vital for our gut. This Microbiome is composed of more than 100 trillion little creatures who live and thrive within our digestive system. The Gut Microbiome’s composition changes over time due to dietary factors and environmental influences. The bacteria can be harmful and cause health problems. However, the probiotics (beneficial bacteria) are important for overall health. Knowing that a diet high in probiotics will help maintain or improve gut microbiota is important. Sauerkraut, fermented veggies, Kefir, and Curd, are good examples. These foods contain more beneficial bacteria than some probiotic supplements. Incorporating them into your diet can help support gut health and immunity.
Sleep, stress, and fitness:
- Improve sleep patterns: Sleep 7-8 hours. Sleep at the same time every day. While we sleep, our immune system works to repair and heal the body. It is important to get enough restful, sound sleep in order to restore and improve the body.
- Exercise: The best way to reduce stress and maintain a healthy immune system. Yoga and moderate physical activity will help reduce stress. It will increase circulation and blood flow, which will deliver nutrients and oxygen throughout your entire system.
- Mediation: Reduces stress and boosts immunity. Every day for 10-30 minutes.
Good personal hygiene, such as washing your hands and brushing your teeth, can prevent most infections.
- Hand washing before eating or preparing food.
- After cleaning meat or vegetables, wash your hands.
- Before storing vegetables in the fridge or cooking, make sure they are clean.
- Coughing or sneezing while covering your mouth with a cloth or tissue.
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has published guidelines on how to wash fruits and vegetables. They suggest:
- Store the fruits and veggies purchased from vendors in the original packet.
- Use potable water or clean drinking if you want to wash them.
- Fresh produce should not be cleaned with soap, disinfectants, or wipes.
- Fruits and vegetables must be kept in the fridge. The rest of the product can be stored in baskets or racks at room temperature.
- Use only soap and disinfectants on fruits and vegetables.
- Cleaning the sink and the area where food has been washed is important. You must immediately wipe the spill if it falls on the floor.