How to support a healthy immune system
Published April 13, 2021
A strong immune system is vital for good health and ensuring your quality of life is the best it can be. This complex system of integrated cells, tissues and organs defend us from pathogens, such as bacteria and viruses. There are many ways to maintain your immune system including diet and exercise. There’s also growing evidence that zinc and garlic can play a significant role in supporting good immune health too.
Adequate consumption of zinc is known to speed up recovery from the common cold and promote healthy skin. Research also indicates that taking zinc as a dietary supplement can help to reduce the severity of diarrhoea in children. WHO recommends 10mg for infants under 6 months old, and 20mg for infants and kids over 6 months of age.
While garlic contains a number of nutritional components, it’s the sulphur compounds — particularly alliin and its by‐products: allicin and ajoene — that are believed to be responsible for helping the immune system. These compounds are produced when garlic is crushed, cut or chewed. They are also accountable for garlic’s distinct odour.
Here’s how you can help keep those bugs at bay:
Watch your diet
If you are wondering how to maintain your immune system, it certainly pays to take a look at your food intake to ensure you are getting the right nutrients, especially those high in zinc. If you are looking for an excuse to eat oysters, you now have one! They contain more zinc than any other food. Other good sources include red meat, poultry and seafood such as crab and lobsters. Many breakfast cereals are also fortified with zinc. Beans, nuts, whole grains and dairy foods are also good to include in your diet.
Ensure your vitamin intake is adequate
Vitamin A maintains the structural and functional integrity of epithelial cells in the body. These are the cells that line the skin, airways, digestive and urinary tract and function as a barrier that forms the body’s first line of defence.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that maintains immune health reducing free-radicals formed in the body. These specialised cells are essential for good health.
Vitamin B6 also has an effect on immune function as important proteins secreted by the immune system require B6 for their metabolism.
Vitamin D and Iron also play a role in a healthy immune system.
Keeping healthy is not just about food. It is also important to exercise regularly and moderate your consumption of alcohol, which decreases the body’s ability to absorb zinc. You also need to get enough sleep and maintain a healthy weight — and definitely avoid smoking!
If you think your diet may be lacking, you may want to consider supplements.
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