one towell balanced nutrition plays a fundamental role in the body and mind healthacting as prevention and treatment of illnesses, studies show that good nutritional practices are strong allies in the prevention of pathologies and in the quality of life of individuals as a whole, and the relevance of nutrients for the normal functioning of the body’s metabolism is evident, in addition to In addition to the various other functions they perform, whether of a physical or psychological nature, the nutrients in food are essential, each with its particular attribution and relevance¹.
For the proper functioning of our whole body, the immune system must always be prepared to protect us from aggression. O the first step towards this is a healthy diet. Thus, nutrients are essential for the multiplication and complete functioning of defense cells.
Also, we should avoid things that cause harm to the body. These good healthy living habits make all the difference:
- Do not smoke;
- Maintain an adequate body weight;
- Avoid the consumption of alcoholic beverages.
In addition, maintaining a proper routine is also essential, including activities such as:
- Practicing physical exercises regularly;
- Sleep well;
- Prioritize foods of natural origin instead of super processed and industrialized¹;
- Moments of relaxation and disconnection from the news and social networks².
A poor nutrition can lead to reduced immunity, increased susceptibility to diseases, impairing physical and mental development and reduced productivity. That is why proper nutrition care must be present at all stages of life and age groups, after all,Nutrition is related to the prevention of non-communicable diseases (such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease) and even longevity with better quality of life.
Food tips for healthier eating and boosting immunity
There is vitamins and minerals what are very important for the immune system. As they are not produced by the body, you need to ingest them through food or supplementation. Generally with a healthy and balanced diet, you will be able to ingest all the recommended amount of these nutrientss. Another great advantage is that when you consume fruit and vegetable varieties, you also ingest other substances that help protect the body².
Below is a list of the main foods to boost immunity:
- Foods Rich in Vitamin A:
Dark green leafy vegetables, yellow-orange fruits, broccoli, kale, avocado, beets, carrots, oranges, figs, kiwis, peas and lentils are rich in Vitamin A, which helps boost the immune system as it maintains the integrity of skin cells, the respiratory tract and other tissues, systems and organs³. Vitamin A is also called the anti-infective vitamin and many of the body’s defenses against infections depend on an adequate supply of it..
O seleniumfound in oilseeds, especially Brazil nuts (popularly known as Pará nuts), has an antioxidant and directly assists in protecting and strengthening immunity. Two units of Brazil nuts per day is enough to reach the dosage / day of this mineral.
- citrus fruits:
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which increases the body’s resistance to viral and bacterial infections, including allergies and is effective in the treatment of respiratory diseases. Examples of citrus fruits rich in vitamin C are acerola, cashew, lemon, orange, tangerine, strawberry and passion fruit³.
- Foods Rich in Vitamin D:
Foods such as liver, tuna, sardines and salmon are rich in vitamin Dwhich is essential for insulin production, cell maturation, maintenance of the immune system, bone development, in addition to preventing rickets and osteoporosis³. A very important detail is that vitamin D is the only one that our own body is capable of producing from exposure to sunlight. So, in addition to including these foods mentioned in the diet, it is essential to add a time of exposure to sunlight to the routine to ensure adequate levels of vitamin D for the body!
- Foods Rich in Vitamin B:
Several vitamins make up the so-called Complex B. Among them, some are particularly important in relation to the immune system, namely vitamins B6, B9 and B12. The main sources of these vitamins are animal products (red meat, liver, milk and eggs), whole grains, mushrooms, dark green leafy vegetables, avocados and tomatoes. B6 deficiency can compromise the production of antibodies and the activity of the body’s defense cells. Vitamin B12,, works together with vitamin B9 in the synthesis of DNA and red blood cells.
- Foods rich in Omega-3:
The so-called Omega 3 are essential fatty acids whose main food source is fish oil, but it is also found in foods of plant origin such as linseed oil, chia seed, canola oil, walnut and soybean oil. Your known intake promotes health benefits in various metabolic processes, with action on the immune system, regulation of serum lipids, improvement of cognition and neuromuscular function, in addition to protecting muscle mass and preventing its loss in situations of disuse. They are important for several physiological functions, generating numerous metabolites that can mediate several physiological responses such as blood pressure, inflammation, phagocyte activation, pain and fever..
- Foods Rich in Zinc:
O Zinc is essential for many biological processes, especially for the proper functioning of the immune system. There is a direct relationship between the mineral and the cells of the immune system, including helper T cell activity, development of cytotoxic T lymphocytes, delayed hypersensitivity, proliferation of T lymphocytes, among others. Sources: whole grains, beans, oilseeds (walnuts, chestnuts, almonds…), meat in general, poultry and seafood.
- Iron rich foods:
Iron is a component of several proteins, including enzymes, cytochromes, myoglobin and hemoglobin. The best sources of this mineral, as they have a higher proportion of iron, are meat, especially red meat and viscera (liver, kidney and heart), but iron is also present in foods of vegetable origin such as raw beetroot, parsley, chickpeas stew and peas. Regarding immune function, several studies have associated iron deficiency with defects in both the individual’s adaptive and innate response..
- Foods Rich in Vitamin E:
Vitamin E is a vitamin with an important antioxidant function, with excellent defense characteristics against the harmful effects of free radicals. Protects lung cells that are in constant contact with oxygen and white blood cells, which help fight disease. The best sources of vitamin E are fresh, lightly processed foods, as well as those that are not cooked too long. Examples of foods are: Cereals with fiber, wheat germ oil, corn, sunflower seeds, olive oil and sun-dried tomatoes.
- Cereals and tubers:
Include daily portions of the cereal group (rice, corn, wheat, bread and pasta), tubers like potatoes and roots like cassava in meals. Give preference to whole grains and foods in their most natural form. These foods are sources of fiber, which aid in digestion and important vitamins, such as complex B and E, which play an important role in the body’s immunity..
A well-balanced diet is of fundamental importance for the health of the body and mind, acting as a prevention and treatment of diseases.. The most memorable physician of antiquity and initiator of studies in clinical analysis, already stated. “May your medicine be your food, and may your food be your medicine.” (Hippocrates, 460 BC)¹.
- Santos, Leonice. (2020). In times of pandemic: a nutritional approach to boost immunity. International Journal of Support for Inclusion, Logopedia, Society and Multiculturalism. 6. 1-10. 10.17561/riai.v6.n3.1. Available in: https://revistaselectronicas.ujaen.es/index.php/riai/article/view/5876/5208
- MINAS GERAIS STATE SECRETARY. What to do to increase immunity? May/2020. Available in: https://coronavirus.saude.mg.gov.br/blog/58-o-que-fazer-para-aumentar-a-imunidade
- De Souza Oliveira, DH, da Silva, MIDO, da Fonseca, RG, & de Sales Ferreira, JC (2021). The importance of a healthy diet as a way to increase immunity through vitamins and minerals. Research, Society and Development, 10(12), e103101220305-e103101220305. Available in: https://rsdjournal.org/index.php/rsd/article/view/20305/18024
- BRAZILIAN DIABETES SOCIETY. Nutrition, immunity and diabetes in times of coronavirus. Available in: https://diabetes.org.br/nutricao-imunidade-e-diabetes-em-tempos-de-coronavirus/#
- CARDOSO, Ary; KITAOKA, Emy; AZEVEDO, Mariana; RIBEIRO, Raquel; TUMAS, Rosana; ZAMBERLAN, Patricia. Proper nutrition and protection of the immune system in the time of covid-19. São Paulo Pediatrics Association, 2020. Available at: https://www.spsp.org.br/2020/05/08/nutricao-adequada-e-protecao-do-sistema-imunologico-na-epoca-da-covid-19/#:
- Brodin P, Davis MM. Human immune system variation. Nat Rev Immunol. 2017 Jan;17(1):21-29. doi: 10.1038/nri.2016.125. Epub 2016 Dec 5. PMID: 27916977; PMCID: PMC5328245. Disponível em: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27916977/
- UNIVERSITY OF SAO PAULO. Vitamin E and its components. Magazine Additives and Ingredients. Pag. 36-39. Available at: https://edisciplinas.usp.br/pluginfile.php/5819859/mod_resource/content/1/Vitamina%20E.pdf
- GOVERNMENT OF THE STATE OF ESPÍRITO SANTO. SESA (Secretariat of the State of Espírito Santo) Healthy eating contributes to the improvement of immunity and stress and anxiety. Oct.2020. Available at: https://saude.es.gov.br/Not%C3%ADcia/alimentacao-saudavel-contribui-para-melhora-da-imunidade-e-de-quadros-de-estresse-e-ansiedade
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