Take a deep breath. You just inhaled hundreds of pathogens, including viruses, fungi and numerous types of bacteria! These pathogens have the potential to make you sick and even take your life, but your immune system works around the clock to destroy these invaders and keep you healthy.
A healthy immune system is quick to identify pathogens and produce phagocytes, lymphocytes, T-cells and many other cells that surround and destroy the enemy. A weak immune system struggles to function efficiently and often overlooks pathogens that go on to make us sick.
If you are frequently sick or simply feel weaker than usual, you can use your diet to boost your immunity. Eating foods from the following categories will help strengthen your complement cascade, lymphatic system, spleen, bone marrow, thymus and every other part of your immune system:
1. High-quality protein
You have more than 10,000 different types of protein in your body. Protein is a macro-nutrient that is essential for the distribution of oxygen, bone strength, chemical reactions, metabolism, immunity and many other aspects of good health.
Eating extra protein when you are weak gives your whole body and particularly your immune system the opportunity to rebuild itself and regain its strength. It is important that the protein you eat be high-quality and not include large amounts of sodium, saturated fats or harmful chemicals.
Here are a few examples of high-quality protein:
2. Fruits packed with Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps our digestive tract to break down and absorb carbohydrates, fats, and protein. It also functions as an antioxidant and helps protect all of our cells from free radicals.
Within the immune system, vitamin C plays an active part in killing pathogens, clearing away dead cells and bringing healing to damaged tissues. It supports both the innate and adaptive functions of the immune system and aids in the production of several types of white blood cells, as well as antibodies.
Below are a few examples of fruits that are a good source of Vitamin C:
3. Greens and veggies that are rich in Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for a child’s immune system to develop properly. Once the immune system is fully developed, vitamin A takes on a regulatory role and helps the immune system respond appropriately when a pathogen is identified. Vitamin A also plays a key part in the humoral immune process that transforms B cells into antibody-producing plasma cells.
Vitamin A can be found in many orange and red veggies, as well as dark leafy greens. Here are a few examples:
Red bell peppers
4. Nuts and seeds that contain Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a wonderful antioxidant that can help prevent us from becoming weak in the first place, but it can also help our immune system recover when we are sick. Vitamin E plays a critical role in increasing and maintaining immunity at the cellular level. It also works in the thymus to help produce healthy T cells. T cells form the foundation for our adaptive immunity that targets specific pathogens.
Nuts and seeds, such as the following, are great sources of vitamin E:
The mucous membrane that lines your stomach and intestines forms a large part of your immune system. In fact, some health professionals refer to it as the mucosal immune system. This mucous membrane is responsible for keeping pathogens that enter through your mouth from being absorbed into your body.
Your gastrointestinal microbiota made up of trillions of beneficial bacteria and fungi lives on the mucous membranes in your digestive tract and strongly influences how efficient the mucosal immune system is.
Eating probiotic foods on a regular basis can help keep your microbiota healthy and your mucosal immune system strong.
Here are a few examples of foods that are good sources of probiotics:
Now that you are familiar with these 5 categories of foods that can increase your immunity which do you think will be most beneficial for you the next time you are sick or not feeling yourself?