Nutrition to Support Your Immune System
1 year ago / in Nutritional Immunology
The founding principle of Nutritional Immunology is that the things you eat have a direct effect on your level of health. Our immune system is the body’s first defense mechanism against hostile forces that cause a multitude of health problems. That’s why it’s important to make sure it’s as strong as possible. The foods we choose to eat should provide our bodies with the best possible combination of phytochemicals, polysaccharides, and antioxidants to protect this vital system. Today’s research teaches us the best ways to protect ourselves from internal and external aggressors.
Phytochemicals were originally called phytonutrients and were considered to be any chemicals produced by plants. However, as science has uncovered the capabilities of these nutrients, their definition has been refined to include only chemicals from plants that may affect health, but are not essential nutrients. Phytochemicals have been linked to the reduction of wild cell growth, have shown anti-inflammatory properties, and some have been linked to lowered cholesterol. The best thing about phytochemicals is that they are naturally available in many of the delicious fruits and vegetables you already enjoy.
Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates that are made up by connecting many monosaccharides, or single sugars. Many polysaccharides have been shown to exhibit properties that moderate the immune system as well as properties that negatively impact tumours. The major impacts polysaccharides have on the immune system include inducing mitosis and activating immune cells as well as Natural Killer cells. Polysaccharides are abundant in many types of mushrooms and have been isolated for use in vaccines and other medicines.
Antioxidants are found naturally in many of the fruits and vegetables that you eat every day. They protect you from oxidants, also known as free radicals, to keep you healthy and happy. Oxidants are elements that are highly reactive due to having unpaired electrons. This unpaired electron tries to pair with electrons in materials throughout your body by forcing reactions, thus damaging cells. Antioxidants protect your body from oxidants in multiple ways, but most commonly by reacting with oxidants before they can force reactions with other cells in your body.
Your Immune System
Nutritional Immunology is founded on the idea that keeping your immune system healthy is the best defense against illness. Immune system function is key to a better life and supports mental and physical health on multiple levels. Your immune system supports mental health by providing your body with the energy and resources needed for your brain to function properly. Proper brain function includes producing the correct levels of chemicals like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, all of which affect mental acquity and mood.
Your immune system affects your physical well being by maintaining a system of organs to protect you. This system is made of the tonsils, lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow, intestines, and thymus. By producing and controlling your immune responses, these organs help keep your body healthy and protect against infection and disease. The three major ways in which they do this are as follows.
Your body’s best defense against invasive organisms is to physically block entry. When these organisms try to enter the body they must first attempt to cross physical barriers like mucus membranes and the skin. If the organism is successful, white blood cells, produced by cells in bone marrow, recognise the foreign body and produce antibodies to defend against it. There are five different types of white blood cells produced in bone marrow and they contribute to the more than one billion different antibodies your body can produce to protect you!
If your body is incapable of preventing an unwanted organism from entering its systems, Natural Killer cells are the next line of defense. These cells perform without needing to be “activated” by the presence of antibodies and work by binding to their targets and releasing chemical filled granules into them. These granules break down the attacking cell, effectively protecting the body. Besides actively seeking and destroying harmful organisms in your body, NK cells also perform other important biological tasks.
Macrophages are versatile cells that course through the body in search of invasive cells. These versatile cells reside in tissue and act as scavengers by ridding the body of depleted cells and invasive organisms. Not only do macrophages clear the body of dead cells, they also participate in immune response activation. By ingesting pathogens and presenting them to the immune system, macrophages stimulate the production of antibodies. This process helps relieve common ailments like chronic inflammation, as well as helping to increase muscle regeneration.
Source: E.Excel North America (link)
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