Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Can certain foods boost our Immune System? Let's look at the research

6 Foods That Boost the Immune System– AHCC Research Association

It is at times like this that we truly appreciate what it means to be healthy and fit, as well as looking at ways we can improve both. We clearly need to be more active and look at our lifestyle, but our diet is just as important. And we can even eat certain foods that are said to have a beneficial effect on our immune system. Here are a few, there are others to find - the choice is yours what you do with the information.

Carrots
Have a nibble on this common vegetable. Just one carrot supplies Beta Carotene for your body to convert into enough Vitamin A, which is vital for your defences as it keeps the mucus passages that act as a physical barrier to viruses and bacteria healthy (see the previous blog entry on the respiratory system).
The best way to east carrots is to cook them though, as this allows the cell walls to soften, allowing more Beta Carotene to be absorbed.

Peppers
People think oranges are citrus are the best way to get Vitamin C, but both red and green peppers have twice the content as oranges. Vitamin C is important for maintaining a healthy immune system, particularly after intensive physical activity.

Kale
Well, this is one of the best vegetables around, and has even been called the King.
It contains loads of Vitamins, A, K, and C. Plus amounts of Vitamin B6, B1, B2, B3.
On top of that it has Manganese, Calcium, Copper, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron and Phosphorous.

HMHB did a separate entry on Kale on Wednesday 12th June 2019 - please do check it out. You should include it in your every week diet for sure.

Garlic
The research here is still a little divided, but it might help with the common cold. One study worked with 146 people - some were given a garlic tablet daily and the others were given a placebo, and this went on for three months.  24 people on the tablet developed a cold, whilst 65 on the placebo did the same. So who knows?
Supplements are obviously different form fresh garlic, but a freshly crushed bulb is a good source of the active ingredient Allicin, and it is also delicious.

Protein
One of the parts on our course is nutrition, and we obviously big up Protein, which is found in every cell in our bodies and is said to the the building blocks of life (well, Amino Acids are, and they are produced when Protein is broken down in the body). Protein is essential for life!!!
We need sufficient in our diets for our immune system, especially for healing and recovery. It is recommended to have some in each meal if possible. Your body will not store it, and it leaves the body fairly quickly, so you need to keep topping up.

Tuna
We are often told we need oily fish in our diet for the Omega 3, 6 and 9. But Tuna is also a good source of Selenium, and in studies a few years ago it was shown, in mice, that if they were deficient in Selenium the severity of a flu virus infection increased. It has honestly not been proven as yet in humans, but it seems sensible to have it there anyway.

Nuts
All nuts are nutritious - although do watch the amount you have as they are high in calories - but grab a mixture of cashews, brazils and peanuts - if losing weight, walnuts, pistachios and almonds are also great. You get good levels of Zinc, Selenium, Iron and Vitamin B6 - all play their part in keeping the immune system healthy.

Red Meat
Before veggies comment negatively, read to the end. There are World guidelines about the amount of red meat you can eat in a week, but Zinc helps the immune system work properly and aid in wound healing, while Iron is also important for immune function. Lean Red Meat is a fantastic source of both.
Nuts do combine good amounts of these nutrients too, but again look at how much you intake.

Wholegrains
In a University study, consumers of whole-grains were shown to have an increase of a type of bacteria called Lachnospira, which produces short-chain fatty acids (essential for life) needed for a healthy immune system.
Those who consumed a whole-grain diet also showed an increase in T-cells - a type of white blood cells that ward off infection.

Oats
Oats can supply Beta Glucan which has been shown, given as a high dose supplement, to prevent and reduce the symptoms of a common cold. Hasten to stress, this was a supplement, and your morning bowl of porridge will not prevent sniffles and a cold. But it does provide fibre and B Vitamins, and they can contribute to lower Cholesterol.

HMHB says:
We are constantly advocating a healthy diet and looking at what we are eating. Staying hydrated is also important, so that passages do not dry out. It also helps to keep you focused.
Most of the above come under the protein and carbohydrates headings.
What we are really saying is - this is a fantastic time to take an overview of your current nutrition habits and see what changes you can make. If you do them steadily, maybe one or two a week, in a few months you will have overseen a dramatic change. You will feel healthier, happier, fitter and stronger. Experiment with tastes you have dared to try, cook some foods you have not attempted to do in the past. Your diet and nutrition should be enjoyable and exciting.

Stay safe, stay indoors, cook well, eat well, be active and see you all soon.

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