You may have heard that certain foods improve our body's immunity. But first, it is necessary to clarify that there is no magic food that has this power. Our immune system depends on a number of factors to strengthen itself, and food plays a part in that.
Since the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic, much has been said about having immunity to the virus, especially after vaccination. The use of the immunizing agent will provide the vaccinated person's body with antibodies, which react to the attempted invasion of the coronavirus. However, there is another type of immunity in our body: cellular. And this is where diet and lifestyle have a strong influence.
Adopting a balanced diet, avoiding harmful substances such as alcohol, cigarettes, and drugs, exercising regularly, getting enough and restorative sleep, and taking care of mental health are the main factors that contribute to a strengthened immune system. In other words, we are talking about a lifestyle much more comprehensive than a simple food.
Which foods improve immunity
Knowing that food is a fundamental part of building our immune system, let's focus on which foods are true allies in this mission. And get ready because the list is big. That's because when we talk about balanced nutrition, we are referring to a variety of food groups, with different nutrients that have different roles in the proper functioning of the body.
You've probably heard that a healthy dish is a colorful dish. And there is a lot of truth to this, as foods with different characteristics have different benefits for the body. But it's possible to go further and look at the different food groups that are feeding you.
Let's talk first about prebiotics and probiotics, which help maintain the quality of gut microbiota. This is important because the intestine is where most of the nutrients are absorbed by the body, so first of all, we need to make sure it can do its full job.
Prebiotics are nutritional ingredients that are not digestible by the intestine and serve as a substrate for beneficial intestinal bacteria. Some examples of foods with prebiotic properties are: garlic, onions, chicory, artichokes, asparagus, and chickpeas.
Probiotics are the good bacteria, those that feed on prebiotics and inhabit the colon. The best known are the lactobacilli, famous for helping to regulate the "lazy" bowel.
With the intestinal flora up to date and ready to absorb nutrients, let's go-to foods that have important vitamins and minerals for the proper functioning of the body:
Vitamin A: Found in liver and fish oil, orange or dark green vegetables. E.g.: carrots, cabbage.
Vitamin C: Famous for preventing colds and flu, it is found in citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, and acerola.
Vitamin D: mainly present in fish liver oil, meat, and seafood. In addition to consuming these foods, for vitamin D to be synthesized in our body, sun exposure for 15 minutes every day is recommended.
Zinc: Found in meat, seafood, liver and offal, fish, eggs, and whole grains such as oats, chia and flaxseed.
Selenium: found in the soil, this mineral can be consumed mainly through nuts, especially Brazil nuts.
The power of fruits
In addition to the vitamins, fiber, and water present in fruits, these vegetables are antioxidants, that is, they delay or inhibit cell oxidation. This is because they fight free radicals – unstable molecules in our bodies that act on cell aging and can even cause diseases such as arthritis, arteriosclerosis, cataracts, and even cancer.
In other words, antioxidant foods help the body fight these rebellious molecules, protecting our cells. As a matter of fact, some of the protected cells may be the body's defense cells, which allows us to state that fruits contribute to immunity.
The main antioxidant nutrients for the human body are: vitamin A, vitamin C, lycopene, and resveratrol. They can be found in the following fruits:
Vitamin A: avocado, prunes, apricot, mango, papaya, melon, and tomato.
Vitamin C: acerola, broccoli, horse chestnut, guava, citrus fruits, mango, melon, papaya, and tomato.
Lycopene: red guava, watermelon, tomato, cherry, papaya, and persimmon.
Resveratrol: present in the skins and seeds of red or black grapes. It can also be found in red wine and grape juice. Also contains resveratrol blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, cocoa, and peanuts.
In addition to taking care of your diet, remember that other habits are also important to maintain your body's immunity. Check with your doctor regularly to ensure your body is healthy and resilient.