These days you may, like most of us, be wondering how to bolster your immune system, protecting you from microbes and helping fight diseases. Here are 7 essential ways how you can help your immune system and boost its functions:
Reduce stress: exercise, try meditation, and psychotherapy.
Eat a healthy diet: include more fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, healthy oils, and legumes into your diet.
Exercise: the recommended amount of exercise is 150 minutes per week.
Get enough sleep: find out how much sleep you need based on your age and other factors.
Mind the amount and quality of nutrients you get: check whether you get enough of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin C, vitamin D, and zinc.
Get recommended vaccinations: check with your doctor if you’re up to date with flu shots and other shots like hepatitis A and B, pneumonia, shingles, tetanus.
Limit alcohol intake and quit smoking: if you drink try not to drink more than 1 drink (women) or 2 drinks (men) per day.
To support your immune system, which is extremely important in conditions of global coronavirus outbreak, you should eat a balanced diet containing adequate protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. These are eight foods and food groups that help you to keep your immunity in order:
Almonds: rich in vitamin E, which is important for supporting the immune system, a good source of protein and healthy fat.
Bell peppers: rich in vitamin C, which takes part in forming antibodies that fight illnesses.
Broccoli: contains a lot of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E (and) potassium, as well as healthy fiber.
Citrus fruits: have such benefits as anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.
Dark leafy greens: a good source of beta carotene which takes part in reducing inflammation and increasing disease-fighting cells.
Garlic: contains compounds that destroy bacteria and infection.
Pumpkin seeds: a great source of zinc, which is crucial for immune cell functioning.
Red peppers: contain as much vitamin C as citrus fruits.
Recent research from the University of Bonn finds that a high-salt diet is not only bad for the blood pressure but it also weakens the immune system.
During the study, the scientists noted that mice that were fed a high-salt diet suffered from much more severe bacterial infections than those eating their normal ration. Also, the human volunteers who consumed an additional 6 grams of salt per day also demonstrated pronounced immune deficiencies.
Prof. Dr. Christian Kurts from the Institute of Experimental Immunology at the University of Bonn says: “We examined volunteers who consumed six grams of salt in addition to their daily intake. This is roughly the amount contained in two fast-food meals, i.e. two burgers and two portions of French fries.”
When after one week of this diet the scientists took blood from the volunteer and examined the granulocytes they noticed that the immune cells coped much worse with bacteria after the test subjects had started to eat a high-salt diet.
A new study from Michigan State University in East Lansing suggests that a chemical used in packaged food to keep it fresh longer can weaken the immune response of the body in the fight against flu.
With the help of mouse model, the researchers found that helper and killer T-cells activated more slowly in the rodents that had eaten a diet with a high content of tert-butylhydroquinone (tBHQ), and it took longer for the body to clear off the virus.
The author of the study Robert Freeborn says: “In our mouse model, tBHQ suppressed the function of two types of T cells: helper and killer T cells. Ultimately, this led to more severe symptoms during subsequent influenza infection.”
A recent international study, published in Nature Communications, finds that gut microbiome can boost the immune system’s ability to fight cancer.
During the study, a team of researchers identified 11 strains of gut bacteria which helped the immune system to slow down the growth of melanoma tumors in mice. The scientists highlighted a signaling pathway called unfolded protein response (UPR) as a major link between the gut bacteria and the fighting ability of the immune system.
Senior study author Ze’ev Ronai, a professor at Sanford Burnham Prebys, says: “These results […] identify a collection of bacterial strains that could turn on antitumor immunity and biomarkers that could be used to stratify people with melanoma for treatment with select checkpoint inhibitors.”
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