The human body is exposed to millions of microorganisms every day. Thanks to our immune system, we are protected from the bad effects of these microorganisms. The immune system, which functions well, is very important in terms of maintaining our health. So how can we make our immune system stronger? The foods we consume have a huge impact on our immune system. A single food group is unlikely to strengthen our immune system. The diet should basically consist of all food groups in an adequate and balanced way. Consumption of adequate amounts of vitamins and minerals is the key to strengthening the immune system.
Vitamins and minerals that contribute significantly to the growth and development of immune cells are mainly; Vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, copper, zinc, selenium, folic acid and iron. It is also very important to consume quality protein sources (including the amino acid glutamine). These nutrients to the immune system; It helps to protect healthy cells by acting as antioxidants, supporting the growth and activity of immune cells, and producing antibodies.
Diets rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and fiber appear to support the growth and maintenance of beneficial microbes.
Protein sources play an important role in healing and regeneration in the body’s immune system. We can support our immune system by including high biological value protein, especially various protein sources such as milk, dairy products, eggs, seafood, lean meat, poultry, beans, peas, soy products, unsalted nuts and oilseeds.
Vitamin A helps to regulate the immune system and protect against infections by keeping the skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy. We can add this vitamin to our diet by getting it from foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, red bell peppers, apricots, eggs, or some foods labeled “enriched with vitamin A.”
Vitamin C supports the immune system by stimulating the formation of antibodies. We can strengthen our immune system by consuming this healthy vitamin frequently by choosing citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, and foods such as red bell pepper, green pepper, capia pepper, papaya, strawberry, kiwi, tomato juice.
In addition, diets dominated by processed foods, limited in nutritional diversity and poor in vitamins and minerals adversely affect a healthy immune system.
Gut health and immunity are deeply linked. Fermented foods and probiotics strengthen our immune system by helping to identify and target harmful pathogens. Among the probiotic foods; yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, naturally fermented products, and some types of cheese. In order to increase body resistance, they should be consumed regularly in the diet.
Vitamin E supports immune function by acting as an antioxidant. We can add vitamin E to our diet with fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), hazelnuts and peanut butter.
Zinc helps the immune system function properly and heal wounds. Zinc; It is found in lean meats, poultry, seafood, dairy, whole grain products, beans, seeds, and nuts.
While omega-3 has been known for some time to have anti-inflammatory properties, new research shows that it further supports the immune system by influencing the functioning of immune system cells. We can meet our omega-3 needs by consuming fish 2-3 days a week. In addition, healthy oils rich in essential fatty acids such as walnuts, chia seeds, olive oil, salmon, flaxseed and avocado strengthen our immune system by reducing inflammation and increasing the body’s immune response to pathogens.
Recent research has shown that diets rich in refined sugar and red meat can promote disturbances in healthy gut microorganisms, resulting in chronic inflammation in the gut, negatively affecting the immune system.
Finally, the use of refined and added sugars contributes significantly to obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. All of these chronic diseases suppress the immune system. Reducing sugar intake reduces inflammation and the risk of developing these diseases.