The immune system acts to protect the host from infectious agents that exist in the environment (bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites). There is significant inter variation among individuals in many immune functions. Genetics, age, gender, smoking habits, habitual levels of exercise, alcohol consumption, stress, history of infections and vaccinations, and early life experiences are likely contributors to the observed variation. Among these factors, one of the most important modifiable factors is diet.
We all know—we are what we eat. Not only our weight, blood sugars and other metabolic profiles are dependent on the food we eat, so is our immunity. Immunity is conferred to us by the white blood cell or soldiers of our body. And can these soldiers work on an empty stomach? Hence, it’s necessary to feed our immune system with the right kinds of food.
The essential ingredient that is required for the maintenance of immunity is proteins. While certain amino acids are more critical in conferring immunity like glutamine and arginine, these are also found in most of the protein-containing foods. Look out if your daily meals include protein?
Other nutrients that are essential in building immunity, especially in case of respiratory infections, is vitamin C. Vitamin C is present in fruits like amla, oranges, sweet lime, guava, lemon, kiwi. Nutrients that are required for the immune system to function efficiently include vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin E, Zn, Cu, Fe and Se. Practically all forms of immunity may be affected by deficiencies in one or more of these nutrients.
In short, eating a well-balanced diet with plenty of dal, sprouts, vegetables and fruits will confer immunity. Try to avoid processed foods- which usually are so refined that they lack in vitamins and minerals.