One of the most important things we can do to protect ourselves and our loved ones against the coronavirus, which causes it to be declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and has started to spread in our country, is to keep your immune system strong, as stated by the Ministry of Health. In this period when more attention should be paid to a healthy life than ever, it is also important to eat a balanced diet and to consume foods that strengthen the immune system. Here are the foods that strengthen the immune system in the light of scientific data …
What is the immune system?
Before learning about the foods that strengthen the immune system, it is necessary to know the immune system closely. The immune system is made up of organs, cells, tissues, and proteins. All these components perform bodily processes that fight pathogens, viruses, bacteria, and foreign bodies that cause infection or disease.
When the immune system comes into contact with a pathogen, it triggers an immune response. The immune system releases antibodies that attach to antigens on pathogens and kill them. Including certain foods in the diet can strengthen a person’s immune response.
How does the immune system get stronger?
Since the immune system works in coordination with all other body systems, it is important to pay attention not only to nutrition but also to all health recommendations and hygiene. The following lifestyle strategies can make a person’s immune system stronger:
- Not smoking
- Exercising regularly,
- Maintaining a healthy weight,
- Avoiding alcohol or avoiding excessive amounts of alcohol.
- Getting enough sleep
- To minimize stress,
- Practicing proper handwashing and oral hygiene.
Which foods should be consumed to strengthen the immune system?
A balanced diet plays a vital role in staying healthy. The following foods can help boost the immune system:
Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person’s immune system. A 2016 study found that flavonoids play an important role in the immune defense system of the respiratory tract. Researchers have found that those who eat foods rich in flavonoids are less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection or colds than those who do not.
Another study showed that dried blueberries are rich in flavonoids. You can find fresh blueberries in some gourmet markets in all seasons, and you can find dried blueberries in almost all markets and consume them by adding them to snacks or salads. Apart from that, you can add blueberries to desserts such as cakes or cookies and make them consume.
In addition to its flavor, dark chocolate contains substances called theobromine, which are beneficial to the body. Theobromines are antioxidants and antioxidants protect the body from harmful waste called free radicals. Free radicals can damage the body’s cells and contribute to various diseases. Despite its potential benefits, dark chocolate is high in calories and saturated fat, so opt for dark chocolate without sugar and should be consumed sparingly.
Turmeric is a spice known for its yellow color that many people use in cooking. Based on a 2017 review; Turmeric has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects with the curcumin it contains. Therefore, consuming turmeric may increase a person’s immune response. When consuming turmeric, it is necessary to use black pepper and olive oil to increase the effectiveness of curcumin. Curcumin in turmeric is also used in some herbal support products.
Broccoli is an important source of vitamin C. It also contains powerful antioxidants such as sulforaphane. For these reasons, it would be beneficial to add it to the food list regularly to support immune system health. Broccoli can be boiled and consumed as a salad or as soup. Adding cream to the broccoli soup you will prepare can prevent children from being disturbed by the broccoli smell.
Although potato is a widely grown and widely consumed vegetable in our country, sweet potatoes are still not widely spread. Even though 1 medium sweet potato, which can be bought from gourmet markets, contains about 100 calories, it meets 120% of the person’s vitamin A needs and 30% of the daily vitamin C needs. The more orange a sweet potato is, the more beta carotene it contains. Beta carotenes also help keep the skin healthy and may protect against skin damage from ultraviolet (UV) rays.
Since spinach contains many essential nutrients and antioxidants, including flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, it can be preferred for strengthening the immune system. Apart from this, the nutrients contained in spinach help cell division and DNA repair.
Ginger can be consumed as a spice in various dishes, and can also be used in desserts or as tea. Studies show that ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties that help prevent disease. However, studies on ginger are still limited, and more research is needed to confirm whether it can effectively prevent diseases.
Garlic has been widely used since ancient times to prevent colds and other illnesses. One review looked at whether taking garlic supplements containing allicin reduced the risk of colds. In the study, one group took placebos with no effect while the other group took garlic supplements. As a result of the studies, the group of participants who took a placebo had twice as many colds as the group that took garlic supplements. However, researchers note that more research is needed to determine whether garlic can help prevent the common cold. Still, garlic is a food that can be easily added to meals because of its flavor.
Green tea contains only small amounts of caffeine, so it can be consumed as an alternative to black tea or coffee. Like blueberries, green tea contains flavonoids that can reduce the risk of colds. What’s more, drinking green tea has a positive effect on blood lipids, increases good cholesterol, and reduces bad cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol.
Kefir is a fermented beverage that contains live bacterial cultures that are beneficial for health. A 2017 study shows that regular kefir consumption can help fight bacteria, reduce inflammation, and increase antioxidant activity. Although most of these studies have been carried out on animals or on cell cultures in the laboratory, there are increasing theories that probiotics affect gut health and therefore the immune system.
Sunflower seeds are rich sources of vitamin E. Vitamin E, like other antioxidants, improves immune function by fighting free radicals. You can consume sunflower seeds as a snack or add them to salads or breakfast cereals. Since consuming sunflower seeds too much can cause weight gain, one should be careful about the amount.
Like sunflower seeds, almonds contain plenty of vitamin E. It is also rich in manganese, magnesium, and fiber. A small handful or a quarter cup of almonds is a healthy snack that can benefit the immune system.
ORANGE AND ACID FRUITS
Acid fruits such as oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, and kiwi are good sources of vitamin C. The mechanism by which vitamin C fights respiratory illnesses such as the common cold is still unclear. However, since the amount of vitamin C in the body is observed to be greatly reduced in colds, it is thought that vitamin C has an important role in fighting these viruses. As a result, vitamin C can reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the human immune system.