Boosting your immune system through diet and nutrition. Both malnutrition and over-nutrition have been linked to lower immune system functions and a proper diet can help boost the immune system and maintain overall health.
The immune system is one of the most important systems in the body. It protects the body from foreign infections, makes sure that dysfunctional cells are removed and does many more useful things, among them remove the cells with risk of becoming cancer cells. Immune system functions are heavily linked to nutrition. Both obesity and malnutrition are linked to a lack in immune functions. Many factors in nutrition contribute to the immune system, including vitamins, minerals, kinds of fats that are eaten and the health of the gut flora.
The immune system is arguably one of the most important systems in our body. It has multiple functions, from defining against disease to regulating the bodies ageing cells and removing all kinds of threats to the body. It is one of the most complex systems in the body, it has many factors and segments, and is involved in nearly every process of the body. The immune system is heavily linked to nutrition and diet, as many nutrients influence how the immune system is powered and how it works. Many micronutrients such as vitamins and minerals are necessary to the proper functioning of the cells of the immune system, as do some macronutrients, especially dietary proteins. Poor nutrition has been shown to result in increased infections, to slow healing from injury and infections, and to increase susceptibility to symptoms and complications from immune system dysfunction. Research has shown that immune function often decreases as we age, and recent studies suggests this decrease is also related to nutrition and can be slowed or even stopped by maintaining healthy nutrition, which in turn maintains a healthy immune system. The immune system is a finely tuned mechanism with many factors which all influence one another and are influenced by many external factors. Nutrition influences the immune system on several levels. Besides being the source of factors required for proper immune system functions, the health of the gastrointestinal tract, especially the gut flora, influences how the immune system works.
Both malnutrition and over-nutrition have been linked to lower immune system functions. Under-eating causes the immune system to be undernourished and lack many of the essential vitamins and minerals it needs for proper functions. The immune system also uses up a lot of energy and calories, so being malnourished leaves it with only a little bit of energy to work with. On the other hand, over-eating and obesity cause many other linked conditions as well as an increase in oxidative stress and disturbances in several metabolic functions. This leads to an overload of work for the immune system, causing it to lapse. Weight reduction diets with less than 1200 kcal per day can also reduce immune function, an excellent reason to avoid unhealthy "crash diets". Excessive energy intake may also compromise the immune system's ability to fight infection as obesity is linked to an increased rate of infectious disease. Obese people are also more likely to develop coronary heart disease, which has been linked to alterations in the immune function.
Reducing the amount of fat in the diet is important for weight control but it also seems to influence how well the immune system works. Diets that are high in fat apparently depress the immune response and increase the risk of infections by pathogens. Reducing the fat content in the diet can increase immune activity and boost immune functions. This might not just affect the rate of infections but could also strengthen specific immune cells that help fight tumors. The nature of the fat is also as important as the amount. Oily fish, nuts, soy or linseed oil in your diet are all good fat choices, because we need the right balance of different fatty acids.
Gut flora is heavily influenced by what we eat. Gut flora has been found to be important for the immune system in several ways. Proper gut flora health ensures that no infections can occur through the digestive tract, and that no pathogenic bacteria can grown in the guts. The bacteria that live in our intestines also produce a number of important vitamins and nutrients that contribute to normal immune system functions. And finally, the gastrointestinal tract has more of your immune system localized within it than any other organ in your body; however, it has a very difficult role. Your gastrointestinal tract comes into contact with the largest amount and number of different molecules and organisms of any organ in your whole body. The gastrointestinal tract is like an internal skin, but it has about 150 times more surface than does your outside skin. It also contains the largest number of immune cells of your whole body, constituting approximately 60% of your entire immune system. Fiber is very important to the health of gut flora. Foods high in fiber, such as whole, fresh fruits and vegetables, promote a healthy gastrointestinal system in several ways. They are fermented by the friendly bacteria in your colon to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), which are used as a fuel by gastrointestinal tract cells. Studies have shown that fibers that promote SCFAs also promote a healthy gastrointestinal barrier. Fiber also promotes the removal of toxins that can adversely affect your gastrointestinal tract cells and supports healthy digestive function overall.
Some supplements may also contribute to the health of gut flora. One such example is Passion Projects superfoods program. The products of this line contain many beneficial nutrients and vitamins that can help with immune system functions in general, as well as both fiber and probiotics to boost your gut flora and the immune cells of the digestive tract.