Adverse climatic situations, physiological or psychophysical stress, intense sporting activity, inadequate diet, lack of sleep are some of the causes that underlie a lowering of the immune system.
Nutritional intake to support health
A correct energy supply of proteins, vitamins and mineral salts is essential to keep the immune system efficient and therefore good health.
For example, if the amount of protein ( of animal or vegetable origin ) ingested daily is inadequate as well as that of some micronutrients such as iron, vitamins B12 and B6 or zinc, the risk of lowering the immune system increases and therefore of getting sick in all those people who are more susceptible to infection .
Who are we talking about? Of children, the elderly, sportsmen, immunosuppressed due to pharmacological therapies or people who are experiencing very stressful moments in that period.
The lack of proteins seems to have a negative effect on T lymphocytes, responsible for the acquired immunological response, with the risk of increasing the incidence of infections.
The essential vitamins and minerals
The fat-soluble vitamins A and E (those that are assimilated thanks to fats!) and the water-soluble ones such as vitamin C, folic acid, B6 and B12 have an important impact on the immune system.
Iron, zinc, potassium , magnesium, selenium, copper and manganese are equally important in modulating the action of the immune system.
These micronutrients are very important for their support to the normal function of the immune system.
Zinc, for example, is an indispensable mineral for many reactions of cellular metabolism , DNA replication and protein synthesis .
Vitamin C together with zinc, supports the immune system. How?
- They are both antioxidants
- They modulate the immune systemat various levels
Vitamin C is needed for :
- Promote intestinal absorption of iron(for this we put lemon on meat or fish!)
- The regenerationof another powerful antioxidant, vitamin E , precious for protecting cell vitality and metabolism , as well as supporting the immune system and counteracting aging .
Potassium and magnesium are two minerals that are lost in sweating, but also in fever. It is necessary to reintegrate them to maintain the correct hydro-saline balance and good muscle and nervous system functionality.
Vitamin B12 plays a very important role in the functioning of cellular metabolism, promoting its growth and development. It is necessary for the formation of red blood cells and has positive effects on the health of the nervous system and the brain.
Strategies to support the immune system
- Have a varied dietwith seasonal fruit and vegetables : raw and cooked vegetables for lunch and dinner; fruit also for breakfast and snacks if you don’t digest it at the end of the meal!
- Make sure you are getting the right amount of water, protein, carbohydrates and micronutrients.
- Do not share cutlery and bottles of water or other drinks
- Take good care of yourself also from the point of view of hygienic habits(washing your hands, for example!)
- Get enough sleep to be rested(at least 6 hours a day!)
- Take supplements only when needed!
Food sources of micronutrients
- Zinc: shellfishsuch as crab and lobster, beef, pork, chicken and turkey , ham, legumes (beans and chickpeas)
- Vitamin C from fruit:citrus fruits, such as oranges, lemons and grapefruit, but also strawberries, kiwis, grapes, mangoes, melons.
- Vitamin C from vegetables: peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, peas, spinach, and potatoes
- Potassium and magnesium: spinach, salads, rocket, turnip tops, legumes in general, dried fruit such as walnuts, bananas
- Vitamin E: vegetable oils (olive, sunflower, almond, wheat germ, corn…), nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, peanuts), whole grains, spinach, asparagus, chickpeas, broccoli, tomato, egg.
- Vitamin B12: in products of animal origin such as beef, in some types of fish (herring, sardines, mackerel), in molluscs, eggs, milk and dairy products.
Remember to eat the RIGHT (for you!) amount of protein of both animal and vegetable origin, but also of carbohydrates from whole grains or potatoes, but always in the right proportions for your personal diet and lifestyle.