The immune system, in its general definition, is the mechanism that defends us against microorganisms that cause diseases. While doing this, it does an important job. But sometimes it fails, and harmful microorganisms enter the body.
Infection of bacterias, viruses and microorganisms cause diseases. To intervene in this process and prevent disease, it is necessary to boost the immune system. So, how can we strengthen our immune system? Is a proper nutrition plan sufficient? Or what changes should we make in our lifestyle for a strong immune system?
Boosting the Immune System
While strengthening the immune system sounds very good, it's not that easy to accomplish. The immune system is not an organ; is a system. Therefore, building a strong immune system requires balance and harmony in all over the body and the lifestyle. Researches say that the immune system has a complex structure. There is a lot we still don't know about this system.
Research continues that the lifestyle is related to a healthy immune system. However, some studies made on both animals and humans say that diet, exercise, age, stress and other factors may have effects on the immune system.
Strengthening the Immune System Naturally
The first and most important step that should be taken to improve the immune system starts with choosing a healthy lifestyle. Following the generally accepted health guidelines is the best step to strengthen the immune system in a natural way. The immune system is an important part of our body and it is easily affected by the environmental factors. When it is well protected and supported, it defends our body much better and more effectively.
Avoid Excess Consumption of Alcohol and Tobacco
Excess consumption of packaged and processed ready meals, caffeine, alcohol, and cigarettes are harmful habits that endanger and weaken the immune system and increasing herbal teas like ginseng and echinacea, fresh fruit and vegetable consumption will also strengthen the immune system.
A fruit and vegetable-based nutrition program should be implemented
Fruit consumption in winter is very important because the fruits of this season are especially rich in vitamin C and these fruits strengthen the immune system.
For children who do not like vegetables, vegetables can be consumed by preparing vegetable soup or meatballs with vegetables.
Adequate amount of water should be consumed
Water is a solvent that carries all nutrients and wastes through blood and lymph fluids in the body. Drinking at least two liters of water a day helps food penetrate into our cells, drain waste, and neutralize the bacteria and viruses that make us sick. At the same time, drinking plenty of water allows the blood to carry enough oxygen to all cells. This means that all the systems of your body work properly. If your organs and muscles work best, your immune system will also work in the best way.
A good night sleep is significantly important for your overall health. The immune system is weakened in people whose sleep patterns are irregular or less than it should be (especially in children). In order for the brain to give proper signals to liver, lungs and even muscles to function properly, it needs to control the temperature and release hormones. And an irregular sleep pattern makes it incredibly difficult for the brain and accordingly the body to manage these.
Do not forget to take Vitamin C
Vitamin C, found in fresh vegetables and fruits, is one of the most important sources that strengthen immunity. Vegetables such as green onions, leeks, celery grown in the fall are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants. During these months, it is recommended to consume peas, chestnuts, walnuts and hazelnuts, which also contain zinc and strengthen immunity as well.
Do not postpone treatment
Existing diseases need to be treated without neglect, as they exhaust the immune system. Especially those with chronic diseases should consult their doctor even in the slightest complaint they experience.
Protein is crucial in order to build and repair body and fight bacterial infection. Immune system is weakened in winter season and therefore, the body is more prone to infections. Protein deficiency shows itself symptoms as weakness, fatigue and poor immunity in the body. Protein sources such as skinless chicken, meat, beef and eggs can be chosen to strengthen the immune system.
Immune System and Age
Age has a direct relationship with health status. The response of the immune system to diseases decreases with aging. This means more exposure to microorganisms and more infections as we age.
Older people are more likely to get infectious diseases compared to young people. These diseases can even result in death. Diseases such as influenza and flu caused by upper respiratory infections are among the most common causes of death in people over 65 years of age worldwide.
There is still no exact information as to why this can happen. However, some scientists argue that any reduction in the T cells (type of leukocyte) may increase the chances of developing diseases.
It can be said that there is a link between the eating habits and immune systems of older people. “Micronutrient malnutrition”, which is a form of malnourishment, means that a person gets less essential vitamins and trace minerals than they should. This is notably common among older people. Older people generally tend to eat less and consume less variety of food in their daily diet. So, do dietary supplements help older people have a healthier immune system? Because, while some diet programs are beneficial for the immune system; this can still lead to different results in people of different age groups.
Immune System and Nutrition
The immune system can be thought of as a well-trained army. Warriors of every army need adequate and regular nutrition. According to scientists, malnutrition can make people more prone to infectious diseases. However, researches still continue on the effects of malnutrition on the immune system.
Is there a relationship between the immune system and nutrition? How to be fed for a strong immune system? If you think your daily diet does not meet the vitamins, minerals and proteins you need, you may want to consider reviewing your program with the advice of an expert.
Foods that Strengthen the Immune System
A strong immune system provides immunity to diseases and reduces the chances of being affected by diseases such as colds, flu and influenza. It may be necessary to review nutritional habits to boost the immune system. So what are the foods that strengthen the immune system?
Protein: Protein is crucial for a healthy and strong immune system. Red meat, white meat, legumes, milk, eggs, yogurt, pumpkin seeds and cheese are protein-rich and readily available foods.
Antioxidants: Antioxidants bind with free radicals and nullify their effect to cause diseases. It is important to consume enough antioxidants to minimize the negative effects of free radicals.
Antioxidant-rich foods: Walnuts, blueberries, strawberries, artichokes, raspberries, cabbage, beans, dark chocolate, fruits and vegetables containing vitamin C and green tea.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A supports many immune processes, including increasing antitumor activity, strengthening white blood cells and increasing antibody response. Vitamin A rich foods: Milk, fish oil and eggs.
Betacarotene: It protects the body from free radicals. Green, red, orange and dark yellow colored vegetables are great sources for betakaroten.
Vitamin C: Besides antiviral and antibacterial effect, it boosts and strengthens immunity. Citrus fruits, green peppers, parsley, cherries and melons are important sources.
Vitamin E: Helps keeping free radicals away. Vitamin E rich foods: Soybean, sesame, walnut, almond, peanut and oily seeds.
Vitamin B6: Its deficiency causes suppression of the immune system.
Zinc: It prevents the reproduction of many types of viruses. It plays a vital role in many immune system reactions. It is found in high amounts in eggs, meat and milk.
Selenium: It is one of the most important minerals for the immune system and any selenium depletion may decrease immune functions.
Excess vitamin consumption can have harmful effects. Since fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K) are stored in the body, toxic effects may occur in case of high dose intakes. Excess intake of vitamin C causes problems in some organs, while an excess of vitamin B6 can cause nervous system damage.
Foods to Boost Immune System
Due to lycopene content in tomato, it reduces the risk of cancers such as prostate, breast, digestive system, bladder, skin and cervical.
The carotene content of citrus fruit has great importance in preventing cancer.
Herbal foods such as broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are known to reduce the risk of cancer due to its glucosinolates content.
Flaxseed protects against breast and lung tumors as a result of lignan in its composition.
Allicin sulfides in garlic and onions strengthen the immune system, increase removal of free radicals, prevent tumor cell proliferation and reduce cholesterol level.
A study showed that the risk of developing stomach cancer decreases with the increase in onion and garlic consumption.
Phytoestrogens in soy content play a role in the control and prevention of cancer, especially hormone-dependent cancers. It also has an effect on the prevention of heart disease and osteoporosis.
The most important source of omega 3 fatty acids is fish, there are data showing that it reduces breast and lung cancer.
Probiotics, on the other hand, prevent the growth of disease-causing microorganisms and help the intestine to function properly. It has a protective effect against cancer. It is commonly found in yogurt and kefir. These probiotic bacteria use prebiotics (carbohydrates found in leek, artichoke, eggplant, onion and garlic) as food. In this respect, they show better benefits when consumed together.
In addition to having an infection-reducing effect of ginger, there are studies showing that it has a preventive effect against colon cancer.
Turmeric, grape seed, cherry, goji play a role in preventing cancer.
The part of the pomegranate which is claimed to be effective on cancer is its seeds. Therefore, it may be more effective to chew the pomegranate with its seeds.
Rosehip is antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Effectiveness in osteoarthritis, treatment of colds has been proven by studies.
Linden relieves cold and pain complaints.
Echinacea strengthens the immune system, directly conducts antiviral activity and prevents the spread of bacteria while preventing colds.