Immune health is at the forefront of everyone's mind these days, especially with the global pandemic. Eating a well-balanced diet to get your daily nutrient intake, staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, and avoiding stress in your life all contribute to a healthy immune system. However, there are specific nutrients and vitamins that are particularly beneficial to your immune system.
What are nutrients?
A nutrient is a substance that the body needs to survive, grow, and reproduce. They provide us with energy and enable our bodies to perform chemical and biological processes to sustain human life.
Why do we need nutrients?
It is critical to consume and absorb the nutrients that supply energy to our bodies. Nutrients include carbs, proteins, water, fat, minerals, vitamins, and fibre. People are more likely to have health issues when their diets lack a balanced mix of nutrients.
People who don't get enough in their diets, don't have access to foods with critical nutrients, are malnourished, or have specific health conditions that may require additional nutrition support are at the greatest risk of having a weakened immune system. It can be difficult to receive all of the immune system-supporting elements you require from your diet alone.
Basic nutrients for a healthy immune system
The best sources of nutrients come from a well-balanced and diverse diet. And certain foods aid in the maintenance of a healthy immune system. By understanding the importance of nutrients in our diet, we can make dietary and lifestyle changes to improve immune resistance and increase immune tolerance.
Zinc is required for wound healing and cellular reproduction, the formation of new immune system cells, and it is essential for growth and sexual development. Red meat, poultry, oysters, and nuts like chickpeas and almonds are great sources of zinc. Your body can't make healthy, new cells if you're zinc deficient. As a result, you could experience weight loss, a decrease in appetite, open lesions on the skin that won’t heal, mental fog, reduced sense of smell and taste, and diarrhoea.
Vitamin A keeps skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory system healthy, which helps to control the immune system and safeguard the body from disease and infection. Eggs, cheese, oily fish, and liver products offer rich sources of Vitamin A. If you aren’t taking sufficient levels of Vitamin A, it can result in night blindness, infertility, chest infections, dry skin, and prone to acne and breakouts.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble component that works as an antioxidant in the body, helping to protect cells from free radical damage. Vitamin C is necessary for tissue healing and the synthesis of enzymes. Foods high in Vitamin C include leafy greens, red and green peppers, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes. Vitamin C deficiency can occur as a result of malnutrition, resulting in weariness, depression, and connective tissue problems. It can also cause scurvy in severe situations.
Vitamins D3 and K2
Other essential vitamins and nutrients are D3 and K2. Vitamin K2 activates proteins that balance calcium in the body and vitamin D3 aids calcium absorption into the blood. Sources of vitamin K2 are meat, liver, and collard greens, and the best source of D3 is fish liver oil and fatty fish. Deficiencies can impede calcium levels and absorption that can affect all parts of the body.
Why do you need nutrients like Vitamin B6? This is essential for a number of bodily processes. It is necessary for protein, lipid, and carbohydrate metabolism, as well as the formation of red blood cells and neurotransmitters, and it is needed for good health. It may even help to prevent and treat chronic disorders. Good sources include pork, poultry, soya beans, and bananas. Anaemia, dermatitis, depression, and disorientation are among symptoms of vitamin B6 deficiency, as is a weaker immune system.
Protein is the primary component of the human body, making up muscles, internal organs, skin, and blood. Proteins are made up of 20 different amino acids that are used by the body to create and repair muscles and bones and produce hormones and enzymes.
Good sources of dietary protein include lean meats, poultry, seafood, and some dairy products. Swelling, fatty liver, skin deterioration, compromised immunity, muscle atrophy, and an increased risk of bone fractures are symptoms of a deficiency.
Iron is an essential component for the body's growth and development and is needed for the haemoglobin and myoglobin proteins that transports oxygen throughout the body as well as for producing certain hormones. Iron-rich foods are red meat, poultry, seafood, and dark green leafy vegetables. An iron deficiency causes anaemia, which leads to fatigue, shortness of breath, a lower tolerance for exercise, and trouble concentrating. It is the most common deficiency.
Copper is a nutrient needed to create red blood cells. It aids in the maintenance of healthy bones, nerves, blood vessels, nerves, and the immune system. Sufficient levels of copper can help in the prevention of cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis.
The richest dietary sources include seeds and nuts, shellfish, and organ meats. Copper deficiency can cause connective tissue disorders, muscle weakness, a low white blood cell count, and neurological issues.
Immune-boosting supplements like melatonin are required for restful sleep. Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on health. Learning is hampered, and insulin resistance, which can lead to diabetes, is increased. It can also cause appetite hormones to be disrupted, causing you to consume more than you normally would. Good sources of melatonin include goji berries, eggs, milk, and oily fish like sardines and salmon.
The role of nutrients and their functions in supporting systemic immune health:
People typically seek out particular supplements that are supposed to increase immunity during the flu season. But the immune system is intricately designed and influenced by a perfect balance of many components. Nutrients needed for a healthy immune system help the body’s cells prepare for microbial attacks and inflammation, and many micronutrients are required for each stage of the immunological response in the body.
While there are numerous factors that contribute to overall health, getting your daily nutrient intake of targeted nutrients with a well-balanced diet and health supplements can contribute greatly to a healthy immune system.