What affects immunity? Diet, genetics, exercise, sleep, exercise & stress are all closely related
The immune system is a complex relationship of various functions within the body. Once the immune system is deficient, we are vulnerable to infection. Immunity refers to the body's ability to resist the invasion of pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses to maintain the stability of our body internal condition. Besides genetics, the factors that affecting immunity include diet, exercise, sleep, stress and so on. Once the immune system is insufficient, symptoms such as constant colds, fatigue, listlessness, and even allergies may occur, as well as premature aging.
During this Covid-19 Pandemic, it is critical for us to practice good habits & lifestyle in order to improve immune system and prevent us from diseases and infection.
How to know if soneone's immunity has deteriorated?
1. Frequent colds, infections and inflammations. Easily to be infected by someone around during flu season. Or as long as the pressure is high, it is easy to break the mouth.
2. Often feel tired: Can't lift energy when doing things, and often need to rest.
3. Frequent gastrointestinal discomfort: Usually prone to abdominal pain and diarrhea.
4. Easily sensitive and allergic: frequent sneezing, rhinitis, asthma, eczema, urticaria, itchy skin, itchy eyes and other sensitive groups.
Myth: Vitamin C as a panacea to boost immunity?
Most people strongly believed that by consuming only Vitamin C supplements will ensure strong immunity. Vitamin C does play a significant role in the immune system of the human body. Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin C that our body cannot produce and needs to be supplemented through diet every day. Modern people’s diet is prone to insufficient intake, high pressure, and easy consumption. Therefore, lack of vitamin C or insufficient vitamin C may affect the normal functioning of the immune system and reduce the ability to fight bacteria or viral infections.
However, it is not appropriate to consume only Vitamin C in order to enhance immunity. In fact, there are many other nutrients that also play an important role in human immune function and can improve the body’s anti-infection ability, especially antioxidant nutrients, such as: Vitamin E, Vitamin B6, Zinc, Copper, Iron, etc. Therefore, improving immunity cannot rely solely on supplementing a certain nutrient, but a comprehensive and balanced diet.
6 nutritional key foods to improve immune system
A healthy and balanced diet provides our body sufficient amount of nutrients it needs to function correctly These are the 6 nutritional key foods that suggested by the dietitians on improving immune system and health condition
1. Consume high-quality protein foods in every meal
Protein is the main component of cells (especially white blood cells and antibodies). Protein is important to build and repair body tissue and fight bacterial infections. Immune system powerhouses such as antibodies and immune system cells depend on protein. Insufficient protein in the diet may lead to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, increased risk of bone fractures, skin and hair problem.
According to dietitian, protein support the following three immune cells:
i) Lymphocytes: protein-rich blood cells which are known as white blood cells
ii) Cytokines: stimulate immune cells and ensure proper functioning of the immune system
iii) Phagocytes: damaging bacteria and viruses
We can easily consume high-quality plant-based protein sources, such as beans, tofu and soy products, while animal protein sources include: lean meat, chicken, fish, seafood, milk, eggs and so on. It is important to eat enough protein to ensure a strong immune system. On an average, a person needs 0.8 gms of protein per kg of body weight. This can vary as per your level of physical activity, medical condition and body composition.
2. Ingest various fruits and vegetables of different colors
We all know that consuming fruits and vegetables will lead to healthy body condition. However, fruits and vegetables have a lot more to offer the immune system than just their vitamins and minerals. Phytochemicals in vegetables and fruits have a protective effect on the human body, and polysaccharides in black mushrooms can regulate immune function. Besides that, blue and purple fruits like blueberries and grapes are full of potent antioxidants called anthocyanins, which help to counter exercise-induced stresses on the immune system by increasing anti-inflammatory compounds and natural killer cells - immune cells which help fight infections.
Since the vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals are closely connected with immune function, it is recommended to include at least one portion of vegetables and fruits in your meal every day.
3. Eat good Omega-3 foods
Omega-3 helps reduce "chronic inflammation" in the body, so that immune cells will not be overworked and unbalanced. The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). However, Omega-3 cannot be produced by our body and must be taken from food. It is recommended to eat deep-sea fish three times a week, such as mackerel, saury, tuna, and salmon. Besides that, seaweed, nuts, chia seed and flaxseed are also rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
4. Select whole grains for starch
Starch is rich in vitamin B complex and various minerals. In particular, vitamin B2, B5, B6, and folic acid are beneficial for maintaining the health of cell and mucous membranes and the production of antibodies. Whole grains can help in managing inﬂammation levels in the body. To add an extra immunity boost, oats and whole grain barley contain a ﬁber called beta glucan which helps to boost immune health and reduce inﬂammation. Oats also contain compounds called polyphenols which have strong antioxidant, anti-itching and anti-inﬂammatory properties, potentially reducing the eﬀects of chronic inﬂammation.
It is recommended to replace refined white rice with brown rice, grain rice or oatmeal.
5. Supplement with good bacteria
Supplementing good bacteria can adjust and improve gastrointestinal health, regulate immunity, and reduce the chance of illness. One of the most well known types of good bacteria are probiotics.
Besides that, consuming good bacteria will also help to ingest vegetables, fruits, whole grain roots and stems. The dietary fiber and oligosaccharides in it are food for probiotics and can help the growth of probiotics in the intestines.
It is suggested to drink 1 bottle of 250ml of yogurt (or small box of yogurt) every day. Through other foods such as natto and Korean kimchi, good bacteria will also be produced during the fermentation process.
6. Include "SPICY" vegetables into your meal
"Spicy" vegetables such as garlic, onions, peppers, and leeks can sterilize and strengthen the immune system. For example, garlic contains allicin, a property which is released when you cut into the vegetable. This property along with the antioxidants inside the vegetable, will help to fight off infection, support immune system and protects against infection. It is suitable for eating raw or cooked.
As suggested by dietitian, consume 2 to 3 pieces of garlic, half an onion, a few slices of green onions daily, or put more in the cooking, to help in boosting immune system.
© 2020 Johnson Loh