Hand washing and self-isolation help prevent the spread of respiratory infections such as COVID-19, but a healthy diet also plays a role.
Immune system and food
The immune system is the main protector of your body. It helps not only repel microbial and viral attacks, kill pathogens that have invaded the body, but also restore the body after an illness. Strong immunity reduces the severity of infections, so now it’s important to eat well so that the body receives everything necessary and increases its resistance against viruses.
One way to take care of your immune system and help it grow stronger is through the food you eat daily.
Certain nutrients in the products are vital for the synthesis of immune cells, specific antibodies and the strengthening of barrier protection at the level of mucous membranes (nasopharynx and bronchi). Healthy nutrition is important during the period of illness, and for the prevention of infection, to support the body during epidemics.
We will discuss with you eight products that can be found in the nearest supermarket, and they supply key nutrients to support your immune system, as well as three products that you should refuse.
See in our gallery the 20 healthiest foods:
Different varieties of cabbage, especially broccoli, are a full-fledged source Vitamin C and beta carotene. A plus, according to researchBroccoli contains sulfur compounds that increase the production of glutathione, an antioxidant compound essential for immune support. Glutathione works by neutralizing free radicals to minimize their potential damage. This allows the immune system to focus on the fight against disease, rather than wasting energy and time to restore cells from damage. Other, equally useful and affordable sources of sulfur are cruciferous vegetables, which emit a slight smell during cooking: cauliflower or white cabbage.
Adequate protein intake is important to support the immune response. Therefore, eggs are a great way to get a serving of high-quality protein. And they also contain vitamin D, zinc, selenium and vitamin E, which are necessary for the body to function properly.
Do not overpay for the so-called “fitness eggs” or “from village hens” (even if they have a veterinary certificate of safety). In such eggs there are no significant advantages in vitamins and minerals (this is subject to strict control and regulation) compared to industrial ones, but the risks of having antibiotics and salmonella contamination increase.
3. Sweet pepper
Well-known and sharply expensive lemons, as well as oranges, are a good source of vitamin C, but if you want to get a serving ascorbic acidalso pay attention to red or yellow bell peppers. Average red pepper contains twice as much vitamin C as average orange. In addition, sweet peppers contain beta-carotene antioxidant and a small amount of vitamin E, which also has antioxidant properties. To get the most benefit and a serving of vitamins, eat raw peppers. During cooking and heat treatment up to 70% of vitamin C is lost.
4. Lean beef
Surprised that beef was on the list of immunomodulating products? Nutritionists believe – this is one of the best products to maintain immunity. 100 g lean beef steak provides more than half the recommended daily allowance of zinc, selenium and vitamin B6. Getting an adequate amount of these three nutrients can be a daunting task (especially in old age), and a small deficiency of any of them can prevent your immune system from working completely efficiently. Deficiency in B-group minerals and vitamins can increase your susceptibility to disease and lower your immune defenses. Try to include lean slices of beef in your diet two to three times a week in the morning – it’s easier for the body to digest beef proteins.
See in our gallery 8 conflicting facts about the dangers and benefits of red meat:
Vitamin A is essential for the normal functioning of the immune system, and leafy greens, such as spinach, contain beta-carotene, a plant-based precursor of vitamin A, which is also an antioxidant. In addition, leafy greens are a source folic acid, and some research show that deficiency can weaken the immune response. Do not like spinach or did not find it in the nearest store? Most dark green and orange vegetables are no less complete sources of beta-carotene. And folates are also found in fruits, legumes, nuts, whole and enriched grains.
6. Salmon or marine oily fish
The consumption of fatty fish gives an adequate and regular intake of essential omega-3s – especially DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid), which are actively used to restore immune cells in case of any viral infection. In addition, omega-3 acids help fight inflammation naturally. This, in turn, allows the immune system to focus more on protecting the body from pathogens and fighting infection, killing viruses. If there is no opportunity to eat fresh fish, canned food – tuna, salmon, mackerel, herring can replace it. These fish species are also a good source of vitamin D and the antioxidant mineral selenium, two nutrients that also support immune health.
Drinking yogurt with minimal sugar and active live cultures is an easy way to maintain a healthy immune system. Yogurt benefits from probiotics, or good bacteria. Research has shownthat the immune system and the microflora of the body work in close connection with each other, actively acting on pathogenic microbes, viruses and fine-tuning the immune response. Therefore, an imbalance of beneficial bacteria in the gut can potentially affect the effectiveness of the immune response. Include yoghurts and other probiotic-rich foods (yogurt, kefir, fermented baked milk) in your diet to strengthen microflora, reduce intestinal permeability to harmful substances, and support immune function.
8. Chicken Soup
It may seem improbable to you that chicken soup is good for your health and immunity, but even our grandmothers treated them to our parents and their loved ones. Studies show, what
the use of chicken broth (or light soup) has a weak anti-inflammatory effect, a positive effect on white blood cells. This reduces the risk of developing a respiratory infection and inhibits the activity of viruses during infection with SARS.
Such an effect, as described in one of scientific worksmay be associated with a compound in chicken – carnosine, which inhibits viral infections. Although the immune defense against chicken soup is not as high as we would like, turning on a plate of chicken soup a couple of times a week will not hurt. Chicken soup can be even more beneficial than other hot liquids with protein. If you add garlic and onions to it, it will be even better.
Foods That May Harm Your Immune System
Some foods may impair the functioning of the immune system.
For example, these 8 foods cannot be consumed with a cold:
Limit at least three of these foods to minimize the negative effects that they can potentially have on the health of your body.
1. Caffeinated drinks
Excess coffee can disturb your sleep.
Lack of adequate, full sleep worsens your body’s immune response, increases your susceptibility to disease, and reduces the strength of cellular immunity. And even if caffeine does not prevent you from falling asleep, drinking more than three servings of the drink per day prevents the body from spending enough time in the deep recovery phase of sleep.
To minimize the negative effects of coffee, limit the amount of caffeinated drinks to 2-3 cups per day and consume them during the first half of the day, that is, the last cup – 6 hours before bedtime.
2. Processed foods with added sugar
Many ready-to-eat packaged foods contain “food chemistry,” compounds that are not found in natural foods — artificial colors, flavors, preservatives, added sugar. These components are needed to make the products shelf stable, or to improve the taste and appearance. Any of the components of “food chemistry” can irritate the body, exacerbating inflammation during infection. This, in turn, worsens the immune response and reduces the body’s ability to defend itself against disease. It is better to start preparing analogues on your own or, carefully studying the packaging, give preference to whole grain products, for example, where the sweetener is fruits, dried fruits, bananas or date paste. Since it is still natural components with minimal processing.
Researchers have foundthat excessive consumption of alcohol significantly affects the body’s immune response, increasing susceptibility to diseases such as pneumonia and other respiratory diseases. Yes, 50 grams of cognac before bedtime or a glass of red wine gives small potential cordial and anti-inflammatory benefits. But the harm from alcohol is no less significant, therefore it is important to reduce strong drinks to a minimum so as not to quit overweight and fatty hepatosis. In addition, under the circumstances, it may become a habit to reduce anxiety with alcohol, and this will inevitably and invisibly for a person will lead to dependence.
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