Now (and always!) all the forces of the body should be directed towards staying healthy and strong. If we imagine our body as a besieged fortress, we will see that all inhabitants, like the cells and organs of the body, must perform different functions: protecting and repairing walls, treating the wounded and sick, raising offspring, distributing food. Thus, the immune system is the body's army, which protects against the penetration of viruses and bacteria. She fights furiously with those who still managed to penetrate the "wall", despite all the protective barriers built, and also cleanses the body of damaged tissues and emerging cancer cells.
In the fight against infection, as in war, the body must always decide whether it is worth fighting, and if so, what weapon is better to use. An excessive immune response (using nuclear weapons instead of firearms) can cause damage to one's own tissues. An example of such a weapon is free radicals and reactive oxygen species, which effectively fight infection, but destroy it without sufficient protection of the body.
The combat readiness of the immune system directly depends on an adequate supply of energy to the body, which carbohydrates give the body. Another key macronutrient is protein, which we need to build new immune system cells, immunoglobulins, cytokines, and acute phase proteins. In addition, a properly constructed diet can give strength and building material for the adequate functioning of the immune system, and is also able to have a modulating effect on its work. Some substances will increase the efficiency of the immune system, while others will protect the cells of the body from the weapons used by our own immune system against viruses and bacteria.
Substances that enhance the functioning of the immune system include:
1. Carbohydrates. The use of an adequate amount of carbohydrates (4-5 g / kg / day for a person who is not actively involved in sports) provides the body not only with energy, but also allows you to reduce the level of stress hormones in the blood, which have a suppressive effect on the immune system. In addition, the consumption of carbohydrates rich in vegetable fiber (wholemeal or wholemeal bread, durum wheat pasta, brown rice) will promote the growth of normal microflora in the intestines, which also has a beneficial effect on the body.
2. β-Glucan is a polysaccharide that is part of the cell wall of fungi, yeast, algae and is found in small amounts in oatmeal. β-Glucan has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for many years. According to studies, it has a mild stimulating effect on cellular and humoral immunity, but does not cause its hyperactivation. In experiments, β-glucan reduced the risk of infection with swine and common flu and the development of viral and bacterial pneumonia. According to the recommendations of the Nordic diet, a diet specially designed for northern peoples, you should eat 5 grams of seaweed and 5 grams of mushrooms daily.
3. Zinc- a microelement vital for the implementation of basic biological processes that affect the normal growth, development, restoration, metabolism and maintenance of the integrity and functionality of all cells of the body and the immune system. The daily requirement for zinc is 7 mg for women and 9.5 mg for men. Zinc deficiency and deficiency are estimated to occur in 30% of the world's population. Zinc deficiency is widespread in developing countries and is the fifth leading risk factor for bacterial diarrhea and pneumonia. Dietary zinc supplementation has been associated with a significant reduction in the incidence of SARS and pneumonia in the elderly and senile population in several controlled studies. The largest amount of zinc is found in oysters, in second place is beef, followed by pork, legumes, chicken, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds,
4. Glutamine (glutamine) is an amino acid that is an energy substrate for immune cells, in particular lymphocytes, and is vital for their reproduction. The daily requirement for glutamine averages 3-6 grams. During infections or after injuries, accompanied by activation of the immune system and an increase in the consumption of glutamine, the need for it increases significantly. Most glutamine is found in eggs, beef, milk. Glutamine can also be found in rice, corn, and tofu, but absorption from these foods is much lower than from animal products.
5. Caffeine . Studies have shown that caffeine intake promotes lymphocyte activation and delays the decline in neutrophil function during intense training in athletes. But it should be noted that the effect of caffeine on the immune system has a dose-dependent effect: in small quantities (1-2 cups per day) it improves the functioning of the immune system, and in large doses, on the contrary, it reduces it.
Substances that protect our cells include:
1. Probiotics are good live lactobacilli and bifidobacteria that live in the intestines and increase the body's resistance to infections, and also contribute to the production of substances in the body that have an anti-inflammatory effect. According to studies, the use of fermented milk products reduces the development of acute respiratory viral infections and contributes to a faster recovery in case of infection with a viral or bacterial infection.
2. Vitamin C or ascorbic acid is a water-soluble vitamin, a powerful antioxidant. The daily requirement for vitamin C is 75 mg for women and 90 mg for men. According to 29 different clinical studies involving more than 11,000 participants, taking vitamin C at a dose of 200 mg per day reduces the risk of SARS by 50% in professional athletes, but not in ordinary people. However, in people who are already sick (non-athletes), taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C per day can reduce the duration of cold symptoms by an average of 8% in adults and 14% in children. Good dietary sources of vitamin C include bell peppers, citrus fruits, currants, strawberries, parsley, kiwi, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts.
3. Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin. It has an anti-inflammatory and stimulating effect on the cells of the immune system, in particular macrophages, promotes the synthesis of antimicrobial peptides. According to studies, vitamin D deficiency increases the risk of developing ARVI, and taking it at a dose of 600-1200 ME reduces the risk of developing ARVI and influenza A. Foods rich in vitamin D: red caviar, tuna, salmon, beef liver, eggs.
4. Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. It has a complex effect on the immune function of the body: on the one hand, it activates the function of lymphocytes, on the other hand, it protects the cells of the body from reactive oxygen species and free radicals. According to studies, taking vitamin E at a dose of 200-600 mg per day can reduce the risk of developing SARS. However, an excess of vitamin E significantly increases the risk of stroke and cancer. Therefore, it is better to compensate for vitamin E from food: butter, camelina oil, sunflower oil, sunflower seeds, almonds.
5. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids are part of the membranes of all body cells and have a pronounced anti-inflammatory effect. Small doses (500 mg/day) of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids have been shown in studies to reduce the incidence of infections caused by streptococcus, staphylococcus aureus, and E. coli. However, taking 1000-2000 mg of omega-3 or 4 grams of fish oil per day reduces the body's immune response against diseases such as tuberculosis, salmonellosis, herpes and influenza.
6. Polyphenols - an extensive class of complex organic compounds in which there are two or more phenolic groups per molecule of a substance. There are about 8,000 different types of polyphenols: flavanoids, stilbenes, lignans, finolic acids. The most famous of them, which have shown their effectiveness against the influenza virus, were resveratrol, curcumin, querticitin. Querticin is found in red foods: red onions, apples, peppers, grapes, citrus fruits, dark cherries, lingonberries, tomatoes, raspberries, cranberries, mountain ash. And also in citrus fruits, broccoli, blueberries, sea buckthorn, nuts, cauliflower and white cabbage. Sources of resveratol are: dark chocolate, red grapes, peanut butter, blueberries.