The immune system is the body's defence against diseases and infections. It attacks organisms and substances that invade the body and cause disease (known as pathogens) through a series of steps called the immune response.
The immune system is a network that works throughout the body, using different types of cells, tissues and organs. For example:
- The spleen is an organ that filters your blood
- Lymph nodes are small glands which store white blood cells
- Macrophages are cells that look out for pathogens and remove dead or dying cells
This is of course, only the beginning of the complex immune system’s capability. In this blog we are going to look at nutrients you can find in foods and drinks that have been proven to help the immune system do its job. Below each nutrient we have listed some foods you might try and add to your diet to help your immune system.
1 Vitamin C
Vitamin C is believed to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections.
- Citrus fruits
- Red peppers
Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body and found in foods. They help defend your cells from damage caused by potentially harmful molecules known as free radicals.
- Green tea
3 Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient which means it gets stored in the body for a long time. It acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals.
4 Vitamin B6
Also known as pyridoxine vitamin B6 helps maintain your central nervous system and turns food into energy. It is involved in producing the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, and in forming myelin, which protects nerves.
- Sunflower seeds
Zinc lives within cells in your body and helps to fight infections, bacteria and viruses.
- Shellfish, in particular crab, lobster, clams and mussels
- Red meat
Potassium regulates your fluids, muscles and nerves. It has been found to lower blood pressure and water retention. Too much potassium, however, can be dangerous as it effects the rhythm of your heart.
7 Vitamin D
This vitamin helps your body to absorb calcium, keeping your teeth, bones and muscles healthy.
- Egg yolks
- Red meat
Other foods to try:
This root contains gingerol which has been found to reduce nausea and act as an anti-inflammatory.
Garlic’s immune-boosting properties come from a heavy concentration of sulfur compounds like allicin. It can help to lower blood pressure and prevent arteries from hardening as quickly.
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