How What You Fuel Your Body With Can Affect Your Body's Immune Function
How you choose to nourish your body has far-reaching effects that go well beyond your waistline measurements. What you eat can also have significant effects on the function of your body's immune system. Here is more information about the relationship between food and your immune function and what foods you should prioritize to ensure that your body is functioning at optimal levels.
Understanding How Nutrition and Immune Function Are Related
Multiple research studies have demonstrated how what you eat can directly influence the optimization of your immune system. This is the result of the key role that nutrition plays in the function of the microbiome and gut barrier. In addition, the right nutrition can also positively influence the way in which your body reacts to inflammation and white blood cell function. All of these elements are critical components of the immune system.
Scientists have long suggested that diets in the western world tend to put the body at an increased risk of immune malfunction. These diets are generally higher in saturated fats, processed foods, and calories. In contrast, eastern diets tend to focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and fatty fish. It is no stretch to understand how western diets will trigger inflammation in the body, disrupting immune function in the process.
Unhealthy Diets Lead to Adverse Immune Function
Because so many processed foods are high in sugar and salt, it is not surprising to learn that the inflammatory responses of the immune system will be negatively affected by excess consumption. For example, foods that are high in added sugar can send blood sugar levels soaring, interfering with the healthy function of immune cells.
Diets that are high in refined carbohydrates have also been shown to negatively change the ratio of healthy gut bacteria in the microbiome. In addition, diets that exhibit a high amount of added salt put the body at risk of impaired inflammation regulation, boosting the risk of many autoimmune conditions. A state of chronic low-grade inflammation can lead to a host of long-term health issues down the road.
What to Eat to Boost Immune Function
Now that you know what types of foods impair the body's immune function, what foods should you be focusing on eating instead? There is no shortage of diet fads that claim to improve immune function. However, it is most important to simply focus on eating the best foods rather than prescribing to a particular diet that may limit what you can and cannot eat.
In general, you should make vegetables, fruits, low-fat protein sources, nuts, seeds, fatty fish, and whole grains the cornerstone of your diet if healthy immune function is your ultimate goal. The nutrients that you want to be intentional about getting into your diet include vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, zinc, copper, folate, iron, and selenium.
If you are eating a balanced diet, it is not likely that your body will require additional supplementation. However, the best supplements for immune function are vitamin D, zinc, and vitamin C.
Immune Function Superstar Foods
Speaking in specific terms, there are particular foods that are indeed superstars when it comes to immune function. Start your intentional diet by loading up on plenty of citrus foods. The high amount of vitamin C will boost the production of white blood cells, improving immune function along the way. Red bell peppers are also exceptionally high in vitamin C.
Good news for garlic lovers. This pungent food boasts a variety of immune-boosting properties, including the compound allicin. Ginger is another flavorful addition that has been shown to decrease inflammation in the body, improving immune function.
Other immune function superstar foods include spinach, broccoli, yogurt, turmeric, kiwi, papaya, sunflower seeds, and almonds.
Following a healthy nutritional plan can go a long way in ensuring that your body's immune system is functioning at proper levels. Failing to nourish your body with the right foods can lower the body's response to a variety of invaders, leading to both short-term and long-term health issues. All of the vitamins and supplements in the world are no substitute for whole foods.
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