A basic aspect to avoid different diseases is to maintain a defense system in excellent condition, in this way we keep microorganisms such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses out of the body.
Although diet is essential to achieve a strengthened immune system, there are other situations that affect it, such as stress and anxiety. Both can affect the capacity of our immune system and favor the appearance or spread of various diseases.
On the other hand, there are also some diseases such as acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), lupus, cancer, or diabetes that decrease the ability of the immune system to protect us.
How can we know if our defenses are weakened?
These are some symptoms that our immune system is not quite well:
- Recurrent infections and/or colds
- Simple illnesses that last longer than normal, take time to heal, or become worse
- Frequent fever
- Dry eyes
- Habitual tiredness
- Nausea and vomiting
- Spots on the skin
- Hair loss
We can also perform some blood tests to determine our state of health, which must be recommended by a specialist, such as:
- Blood count
- B12 vitamin
How to strengthen the immune system on a daily basis
There are aspects of lifestyle that can affect the protective function of the immune system, such as lack of physical activity, alcohol consumption, being a smoker, and having a poor or unhealthy diet.
The nutrients that we obtain through food play a very important role in the development and good condition of our immune system. In the event of a deficit or lack of any nutrient, this system will diminish its ability to defend itself.
Some specific nutrients that we must consume frequently to keep our defenses in good condition are:
- Copper: it is an antioxidant and contributes to the functions of digestive enzymes
- Iron: if its levels are below what is recommended, the defense capacity of white blood cells decreases
- Selenium: enhances the activity of defense cells
- Zinc: when there is not enough in the body, it affects growth and increases the appearance of autoimmune diseases
- Magnesium: at a lower consumption than necessary there is inflammation and aging
- Vitamin B6: in case of a deficit there is a decrease in white blood cells and an altered response
- Vitamin B12: with levels below normal there is a decrease in defense cells
- Vitamin C: increases the capacity of cells to defend, has a great antioxidant capacity
- Vitamin A: in case of deficit, the ability of cells to defend themselves fails
- Vitamin E: lower consumption deteriorates our immune capacity since this vitamin protects us from infections
- Vitamin D: studies have shown a relationship between the deficiency of this vitamin and the incidence of respiratory infections
Foods that strengthen the immune system
There are many natural foods that can help strengthen the body’s defense line. Some recommendations in this regard are:
- Include natural herbs and spices such as garlic, onion, oregano, and turmeric in the diet.
- Eat foods rich in vitamin A and beta carotene: sweet potato, pumpkin, carrot, papaya, etc.
- Foods with vitamin C: citrus (orange, tangerine, strawberries, blueberries), peppers, broccoli, kiwi.
- Zinc is key to our defense system. We can find it in pumpkin seeds (you can include them in your oatmeal or salads), nuts, and beans.
- Spend at least 30 min in the sun every day with light or uncovered clothing, to produce vitamin D. In the event that you cannot do it, you should evaluate taking a supplement according to your requirements by age and sex.
- Eat foods rich in fiber, a very important component that intervenes in the function of the immune system promoting the growth of your bacterial flora
- You can choose foods with probiotics, that is, bacteria with various beneficial effects on the immune system. You find them in some yogurts.
- Avoid alcohol, sugar, and processed foods such as packaged food, fast food, fried foods, etc.
Some extra tips
In summary, the tips to keep ourselves more protected are:
- Wash your hands properly and frequently
- Do moderate physical activity
- Try to have a good night’s sleep
- Manage stress to avoid lowering your defenses
- Avoid crowded places
- Do not consume sugar, processed and/or fast food, or trans fats
- Consume fruits and vegetables daily
- Remember to stay calm in the midst of stressful circumstances, because stress is a determining factor that affects the capacity of our immune system.