A balanced diet and healthy lifestyle habits are key to strengthen our immune system. Eating foods rich in minerals and vitamins is even more important when we have been fighting a pandemic caused by the coronavirus for a year. In addition, our specialists recommend “good quality fats, such as those provided by nuts and oily fish” to strengthen our defenses.
Carmen Navarro, specialist in Nutrition of Ribera in the hospitals of Vinalopó and Torrevieja recalls that “people who don’t eat well are at higher risk that their immune system is weakened and, therefore, of contracting diseases “. The pharmacist and nutritionist Susana Carril also recommends the consumption of fermented dairy products, “because it favors resistance to microorganisms” and, therefore, favors our defenses. For Ruth Boente, endocrine, vitamins such as A, B6, B12, C and D and minerals such as copper, folate, iron and selenium have a special role in the proper functioning of the immune system.
Fresh and seasonal fruits and vegetables provide vitamins, minerals and fiber. In addition, professionals recommend reducing the consumption of juices, because they provide vitamins and minerals but do not include much of the fiber found in the whole fruit. “As a reference we can take three or more pieces of fruit a whole day, preferably one rich in vitamin C such as oranges, strawberries or kiwis”, explains Carmen Navarro. Susana Carril adds that “the skin of the fruit is usually a reservoir of vitamins and minerals.” “Vitamin C is essential and has important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory effects”, explains Dr. Boente, which adds that “there is scientific evidence that adequate levels of vitamin C reduce the incidence and duration of respiratory infections.”
Consuming two servings of vegetables a day guarantees a strong immune system to fight any disease and whole grains are recommended over refined flours. “The whole grain provides a greater amount of nutrients such as vitamins, fiber and minerals,” explains Dr. Navarro, who adds that “it is necessary to increase the consumption of legumes, rice, potatoes and disregard foods processed with white flour.” Dr. Navarro recalls that nuts, lean meats and fish provide fiber, unsaturated fatty acids and insists on replacing sugary drinks, both soft drinks and juices, with water, coffee or infusions since the consumption of rapidly absorbed sugars, such as sugar or honey, are a group of superfluous food not necessary ”.
Vitamin D and Covid
The Covid has highlighted the importance of vitamin D in our immune system. Ruth Boente, a specialist in Endocrinology at the Ribera Povisa Hospital, explains that vitamin D “has properties that help reduce the risk of respiratory infection, improving the physical barrier, innate cellular immunity and modulating acquired immunity.”
The pharmacist and nutritionist Susana Carril explains that many studies are being carried out to verify the extent to which vitamin D can be key to strengthening our immune system against viruses such as Covid. “There are already studies that indicate that people with a deficient level of vitamin D are more likely to be Covid positive in similar conditions to another person with a normal level of this vitamin ”, he explains. Other studies are currently evaluating “a protective effect of vitamin D against gravity, once infected by the virus.” In this sense, Dr. Boende points out that “in several studies, vitamin D deficiency has been correlated with a higher degree of inflammation, the risk of pneumonia and the appearance of severe respiratory distress.” Although, he adds, the investigations are maintained because studies in Covid patients have yielded discordant results in terms of reducing severity and mortality. In any case, endocrine explains that fatty fish such as trout, salmon, tuna and mackerel should be key in our diet, because they are a natural source of vitamin D, as is cattle liver beef, cheese, egg yolk, mushrooms and dairy, mainly milk.
Along with a balanced diet, a healthy lifestyle includes physical exercise, stress management and proper sleep hygiene. “All this helps to strengthen the immune system both such as adequate intake of vitamins and micronutrients”Explains Dr. Navarro.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.