Immunity is defined as a condition in which one is able to resist a particular disease or infection by preventing the development of pathogens through specific antibodies or sensitized white blood cells. The immune system is an intricate interplay of cells, tissues and organs that have the crucial task of determining whether or not invaders and foreign signals are dangerous to our body. Immunity is a two-part system in the human body: innate and adaptive. Innate immunity includes skin, mucus, stomach acid, and enzymes that block, trap or destroy pathogens. Adaptive immunity is the part of our physiology that learns to recognize pathogens and is regulated by cells, bone marrow and lymph nodes.
Many of our immune responses are suspected to be influenced by the environment and behaviors such as diet rather than genetics. Indeed, a system-wide analysis in the publication Cell compared the twin brothers and found that their immunity differed markedly and not due to a hereditary response but instead due to environmental exposure.
One of the best strategies under our control to possibly increase immunity is through an overall healthy diet. There is no strong evidence to support the fact that identifying a particular food or supplement makes a difference, but rather the synergy of all foods consumed regularly. The closest eating pattern we believe will help immunity is an anti-inflammatory diet, which includes some of these tricks.
We will always be fans of eating food and consuming a rainbow of fruit is ideal. It’s great to consume fruit on a regular basis, but if bananas and apples are repeated in the shopping cart every week, it’s time to branch out. Think reds like blueberries or pomegranates, greens like kiwifruit or honeydew, purples like plums or figs, or yellows like pineapple or apricots. These different fruits contain a range of various vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals to help fight disease and may best prepare us for unwanted bacteria or viruses.
Fresh, canned, dried or frozen options matter. You can cut a fresh pear to dip in peanut butter, garnish canned peaches with a dollop of light whipped cream for dessert, add some raisins to morning oatmeal, or add some frozen berries to your next smoothie. .
These two sub-categories of vegetables are specifically referred to in Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025. They contain loads of fiber and compounds like chlorophyll, lycopene, beta-carotene, lutein and anthocyanidins that can do everything from supporting healthy blood vessels to protecting our eyesight and, you guessed it, helping our immune system.
Some examples to achieve this food goal could be enjoying a spinach salad topped with grated carrots as an appetizer for lunch, a leftover pasta salad with arugula and tomatoes as a snack, or cooked Chinese cabbage mixed with red pepper as a side dish for the dinner.
A review in the diary Nutrients points out that prebiotics promote the growth of bacteria associated with health benefits, such as Bifidobacterium genus, reducing those potential pathogens such as that of Clostridium genus. This activity could control inflammation and oxidative stress in the face of infection. The best prebiotic foods include garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus and Jerusalem artichokes. Prebiotics are also found in many other fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains.
The probiotics we may hear about more often because they are the true live microorganisms that confer benefits. Probiotic cultures appear to support the immune system by preventing the growth of harmful bacteria and aiding their elimination. The most common probiotic foods include dairy or non-dairy yogurt and fermented foods such as kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, or tempeh.
Maintaining or achieving a healthy body weight is key to controlling the risk of chronic disease, as obesity is associated with low-grade inflammation. A healthy body weight can also aid in acute protection from infections and diseases.
A good rule of thumb is to stick to the portion sizes suggested by the nutrition facts label. Most healthy adults should commit to about four to five eating occasions per day, and meals are likely around a 500-calorie goal and snacks usually at a 250-calorie goal. A note that this can vary greatly based on age, gender, activity level, or clinical condition, so consult individually with a registered dietician for further guidance.
Sugar appears to be everywhere in food and beverages and can often go unnoticed until you turn the package upside down and check the ingredients and / or nutrition facts panel. Added sugars in the form of brown sugar, beet sugar, molasses, honey, maple syrups, agave nectar, or other sweeteners provide little or no nutrition and crowd the space for other healthy foods we could consume to help immunity.
First, try to swap sugary drinks like specialty coffees and sodas for unsweetened drinks like a nice herbal tea or flavored seltzer water. So, use fruit as a source of sweetness rather than relying on sugary desserts or treats. We recommend that you stick to less than ten percent of your total calories as added sugars.
Incorporate more immune-boosting foods into your diet with these popular immune-boosting foods.