“An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Certainly part of this philosophy is true because a healthy diet including fiber, antioxidants (fruits and vegetables) and plenty of protein is proven help to keep your immune system working properly. Getting specific micronutrients such as iron, selenium, zinc, copper and vitamins C, A, E, B-6 along with folic acid have an important role in keeping the immune system working properly. Not eating enough protein puts one at risk for protein-energy malnutrition and significant immunity impairments.
Diets high in fats, sugars and too many calories make you more prone to infection. These foods increase blood sugars and may cause oxidative damage. With oxidative damage the body cannot detoxify itself as well leading to possible illness.
It was once believed that malnutrition or deficiencies could not happen to an obese person. Now we know through research that malnutrition occurs because of a poor diet not the quantity of food eaten. Deficiencies and malnutrition can very well occur in any individual who eats poorly, no matter their weight.
Obesity has been found to directly impair the immune system regardless if the obese person eats a healthy diet. Specific problems related to immunity in the obese include:
- Decreased cytokine production telling us that the specific cells of the immune system don’t function as well
- Altered infection fighting power through monocyte, lymphocyte and natural killer cells
- Cells (macrophage and dendritic) for fighting illness and disease don’t work as well
- Decreased response to antigens which means your body isn’t fighting off bad things that may cause illness
Well known links exist between the type of food we eat, exercise and immune function. Eating healthier and incorporating exercise can help to increase your immune function.