During the covid-19 pandemic, they advised people to seek special foods or vitamin supplements believed to boost immunity. This was necessary because vitamins play a role in defending the body against invading agents that make us sick.
The architecture of the immune system is complex and determined by an ideal balance of many factors, not just diet, and especially not by anyone’s specific food or nutrient. However, a balanced diet comprising a range of vitamins and minerals, combined with a healthy lifestyle like adequate sleep, exercise and low stress, helps boost the immune system to fight diseases.
The Immune System
The immune system comprises a network of intricate cells in the body that protects us against harmful microbes and certain diseases. It recognises foreign invaders like bacteria, viruses, and parasites and takes immediate action.
Immunity refers to the ability of an organism to resist a particular infection or toxin by the action of specific antibodies. There are two types of immunity:
- Innate immunity
- Adaptive immunity
Innate immunity: this is the body’s first line of defence from pathogens achieved through protective barriers. These barriers include:
- The skin that helps keep out most pathogens
- Mucus from the mucous membrane that traps pathogens, especially in the respiratory system
- Stomach acid that destroys pathogens
- Immune system cells that attack all foreign cells (white blood cells), invading the body
Adaptive or acquired immunity: This form of immunity creates a complex system that allows the body to learn and recognise a pathogen. It is regulated by specialised cells and organs in the body. When a foreign substance invades the body, these cells and organs create antibodies and lead to the multiplication of immune cells that attack and destroy it.
We can trigger the Immune system by:
- Antigens: They are substances that the body regards as foreign and harmful. They trigger immune cell activity.
Inflammation: Inflammation is part of the body’s defence mechanism. It is the process by which the immune system recognises and removes harmful and foreign agents. Prolonged inflammation can lead to tissue damage and may overwhelm the immune system.
Autoimmune: Conditions like lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or type 1 diabetes are examples of diseases that cause the immune system to be triggered.
Immunodeficiency disorders are a group of diseases that can trigger or even suppress the immune system. Some of them include HIV/AIDS and cancers such as leukaemia.
FACTORS THAT SUPPRESS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
- Environmental toxins /pollution
- Excess weight:
- Chronic disease
- Immune-Boosting Diet.
Eating enough nutrients as part of a varied diet is required for the health and function of all body cells, including immune cells. Some nutrients are critical for immune cells’ growth and function. They include vitamins and minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron, and proteins.
Steps to Help Support a Healthy Immune System
- Always eat a balanced diet with fruits 100% fruit is highly recommended, vegetables, proteins, whole grains, and plenty of water.
- Taking multivitamins is also essential.
- Avoid smoking or consuming tobacco products.
- Drink alcohol in moderation.
- Perform the regular exercise in moderation.
- Ensure regular sleep (at least 6 to 7 hours)
- Aim to manage stress.
- Wash hands throughout the day and maintain good personal hygiene
ROLE OF VITAMINS IN INFECTION
Vitamins are essential constituents of our diet that have long been known to influence the immune system. Vitamins A and D have received particular attention regards their role in immunity and fight against Infection.
Vitamin A Is an essential nutrient for humans. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that belongs to a group of organic compounds called retinol, retinal and retinoic acids. They are crucial to vision, boosting the immune system, reproduction, and growth and development especially foetal growth.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN A
Vitamin A is available in natural forms, mainly in fruits and vegetables and also fortified in food and dietary products. Some sources of vitamin A include cereals, fruit juices, 100% fruit available, dairy products, leafy green vegetables, tomatoes, beef liver, fish oils, milk, and eggs.
An adequate vitamin D intake helps support immune function and reduce the risk of autoimmune diseases and inflammation. The body can produce vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight. It can also boost the amount of vitamin D the body needs through food supplements.
Aside from immune functions, vitamin D provides the body with the amount of calcium needed for strong bones and teeth.
SOURCES OF VITAMIN D
fatty fish, egg yolks, cheese, beef, liver, mushrooms, fortified milk, fortified cereals, etc. are all dietary sources of vitamin D. It is important to note that vitamin D is more of a hormone than it is a vitamin and can be triggered into action on exposure to sunlight.
Another vital vitamin needed by the body is vitamin C.
Vitamin C, also called ascorbic acid, is a vital nutrient for health. It helps form and maintain bones, skin, and blood vessels as an antioxidant and also helps to improve the body’s immune system to fight Infections and diseases.
Vitamin C occurs naturally in some foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and supplements.
Source Of Vitamin C
Fruits are the primary source of vitamin C. Some of them include:
Oranges and orange juice, order for 100% natural fruit drink, grape, strawberries, apples, bananas, vegetables, tomatoes, and so forth
Vitamin C is also essential in preventing certain conditions like heart diseases and cancer. It also plays a vital role in wound/tissue healing.