What is the Immune system and where is it?
The Immune system is operating for us 24/7. It is a complex system made up of proteins and cells that defend the body against infections. But how do you boost your immune system?
We all have three types of immunity; innate, passive and adaptive. Innate immunity refers to our skin, chemicals in the blood and immune cells.Passive immunity is short term and refers to the antibodies we can get from our mother when breastfed, or from an injection. Adaptive Immunity is made up of our B cells, antibodies and T cells that identify invading pathogens and destroy them.
The Immune system consists of 5 main areas in the body; the white blood cells, antibodies, the spleen, the thymus and the bone marrow. Interestingly, 70% of your immunity is in the gut, therefore the food we eat will have a profound effect on it. If we look after the gut then good health is the result.
In order to keep the Immune system in the best possible shape we need to nourish it with the best food possible. The following is a list of the foods that supply the nutrients needed for optimum health.
There are over 64,00 published studies on the effects of vitamin C on Pubmed. It cannot be made in the body so has to come from your diet, as it is fundamental to the human body. It has many functions in the body such as an antioxidant, growth & repair of tissues, collagen formation but fundamentally it supports the cellular functions of the innate & adaptive immune system. Low Vitamin C levels= low immunity. It also boosts energy and supports health.
Best foods :- Broccoli, cauliflower, kiwi, kale, tomatoes, citrus fruits, red peppers, sweet potatoes.
Did you know that red peppers have more vitamin C than an orange?
Our best source of vitamin D comes from the sun. When our skin is touched by sunlight, it converts a form of cholesterol under the skin, this then goes to the liver and kidneys where it is converted into the active form of vitamin D3. Vitamin D helps adjust the function of the innate & adaptive immune system. It has proven particularly useful in respiratory infections. Deficiency in it causes more autoimmune problems and increased susceptibility to infection.
Best foods :- oily fish, fish oils, mushrooms, egg yolks, fortified cereals.
Is a mineral found in all cells. It helps to fight off invading bacteria and viruses.
Best foods:- nuts, seeds, eggs, wholegrain, meat, tofu, legumes.
Selenium is a powerful antioxidant and helps enhance the immune response. Be careful not to consume too much. Sufficient amounts can be gained from a couple of Brazil nuts each day.
Best foods :-Brazil nuts, seafoods, organ meats.
Probiotics are the good bacteria that live in your gut. They work in synergy with the body to produce short chain fatty acids, neurotransmitters, B vitamins and butyrate to feed the gut immune cells.
It has also been quoted that ‘some probiotics have been shown to promote the production of natural antibodies in the body. They may also boost immune cells like the IgA-producing cells, T lymphocytes and natural killer cells.’
Best foods :-Sauerkraut, kimchi , fermented vegetables, kombucha, yogurt, kefir. A supplement of probiotics is also a good alternative.
As you can see if we eat a broad selection of foods, in particular fruits and vegetables, then we can boost our immune system and stay in optimum health. Now more than ever we need to take action to support ourselves.