Start your new year on a strong note by making a new year resolution to attain better immune health. Good nutrition is critical to support a healthy immune system. There is a strong relationship between poor nutritional status and compromised immunity.[i]
Getting the nutrients, you need is a must for better health. For people with lifestyle diseases like diabetes, good nutrition is also a steppingstone to glucose control. To keep tabs on how your increased nutrient intake helps you manage your condition, you can also monitor your progress with continuous glucose monitoring devices. These convenient wearable devices with accessible, user-friendly design help people with diabetes track their blood sugar levels and understand how their bodies react to specific foods and nutrients, exercises, and more. With a small sensor applied to the back of your arm, these devices offer actionable insights into glucose readings and trends, and can alert you to glucose fluctuations in real-time, which you can swiftly address.
By boosting your immunity, you can benefit from better health. This holds true for both the ageing population as well as those with long standing health conditions, like ones affecting the respiratory tract, liver, arthritis, diabetes etc who must be even more vigilant to avoid muscle loss and weakened immunity.
To help you attain better immune health, Dr. Irfan Shaikh, Head, Medical & Scientific Affairs at Abbott’s Nutrition business lists down important nutrients and their sources that can keep you strong:
HMB (Beta-hydroxy-beta-methylbutyrate) acts as a gateway to help keep your muscles in balance by slowing muscle breakdown or loss. It is naturally produced in your body from break down of leucine, an essential amino acid, but only small amounts of this gets converted to HMB in the body.- As scientific as that sounds HMB has been part of your diet for a long time without you even knowing about it. It is available in small quantities in foods like avocado, grapefruit, and cauliflower. Specialized oral nutrition supplements featuring HMB are good supporting add-ons to ensure that you get the adequate amount of it needed to support muscle health.
Protein provides the building blocks for each cell in the body like muscles, bones, hormones, antibodies etc. It is needed for the building of antibodies and immune system cells. Also, some of the amino acids that make up proteins are important fuels for cells in the immune system. While eggs are an excellent source of protein, foods such as chickpeas, cottage cheese, quinoa, Greek yogurt, peanuts, and almonds also help increase protein intake. Not to forget dairy and dairy products.
Vitamin A helps regulate the immune system. Known as the “anti-infective vitamin, this nutrient keeps your skin, mouth, stomach, and lungs healthy so that they can better fight infection. It’s also key for sharp vision. Consume it with some fat for better absorption. Sweet potato, pumpkin, carrots, and spinach are loaded with Vitamin A.
Vitamin C helps the body build healthy skin and connective tissue, which helps to block the entry of foreign microbes. Vitamin C also acts as an antioxidant protecting cells from damage. It also helps protect against anemia by helping us absorb more iron from plant foods. Oranges are best known as sources of Vitamin C. However, apart from that, certain foods power-packed with Vitamin C are kiwis, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, and red peppers.
Vitamin E works as an antioxidant, protecting cell membranes from damage due to free radicals. Healthy cell membranes help keep foreign microbes out and support a healthy immune response. Vitamin E is a common nutrient found in most foods. Cooking oils, seeds, and nuts are exceptionally rich sources.
Vitamin D helps to activate immune cells and properly regulate their function. This multitasking nutrient helps our bodies absorb calcium and it promotes a strong immune system. There are few foods that are naturally rich in vitamin D3. Some of the sources are flesh of fatty fish and fish liver oils, egg yolks, orange juice and cheese.
Zinc is needed for wound healing and for cellular reproduction, which is important in the synthesis of new immune system cells. Zinc is also critical for proper growth and development, especially during childhood, adolescence, and pregnancy. Meat is an excellent source of zinc especially red meat. For vegetarians, food like chickpeas, lentils and beans all contain substantial amounts of zinc. Seeds are also a healthy addition to your diet and can help increase your zinc intake.
Fluids and Electrolytes: Consuming adequate fluids (water) and electrolytes such as sodium, potassium and chloride help regulate the body’s temperature. They lubricate joints, keep cells and tissues healthy, remove waste products and help the body hold on to fluids for even better hydration. Many foods and drinks contain electrolytes including leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and fruits like bananas, prunes, and dried apricots. Apart from this, beans, lentils, nuts, sand seeds also contain substantial levels of electrolytes
People who are at the highest risk for compromised immune health are those who do not get adequate amounts of food in their diets, do not have access to foods with key nutrients, are malnourished, or have certain health conditions that may require additional nutrition support. With better health habits, you can lead a fuller life.