SHA Magazine Health & Beauty

Foods that help the immune system

SHA Magazine
March 12, 2024

Our first line of defence is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that work together to protect us against diseases and pathogens, and we know it as the immune system. If there is a crack in the line of defence, we will get sick more often, but if it is a strong, solid wall, not even a cold will get in.

Maintaining a strong immune system is a guarantee for overall health and well-being. And our lifestyle is the best guarantee for keeping our defences strong. Diet is, perhaps, the main weapon we can use as a powerful prevention tool to support our immune system.

A balanced diet containing many colours, which often indicate nutrient density, is essential for maintaining a strong and healthy immune system. By regularly incorporating these foods into the diet, the immune system is strengthened and the risk of disease and infection is reduced.

Hydration is crucial for the proper functioning of our defences. Water transports nutrients to the cells and removes toxins from the body. This optimises the work of the immune system.

Rest is another major ally, as sleep plays a key role in immune regulation. During sleep, the body produces and releases proteins called cytokines, which help it fight inflammation and infections. To keep our immune system in a good state, we need to sleep between 7 and 9 hours a day.

Our immune system does not cope well with chronic stress, which can even disable its functions and increase susceptibility to certain diseases. It is advisable to practice stress management techniques, such as meditation, mindfulness, yoga, or breathing techniques.

Regular physical exercise can help reduce the impact of stress on the immune system. In addition to improving cardiovascular and muscular health, physical activity increases the circulation of immune cells in the body and prevents the development of chronic diseases.

Diet is vital for the immune system. It has been demonstrated that citrus fruits, such as mandarins, lemons, and grapefruit, rich in vitamin C, are a powerful antioxidant that stimulates the production of white blood cells and are key in the fight against infections and viruses; also dark green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, Swiss chard and kale, as they are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and E. In addition, it is recommended to consume garlic, which contains sulphur compounds with antimicrobial properties, and ginger for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Probiotic-rich foods, such as yoghurt and kefir, promote gut health and also strengthen the immune system, as do nuts, including almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds, which are rich in vitamins. Small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, which are high in omega-3 fatty acids, are a boon to our immunity.


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