A healthy immune system, able to be on alert, ready to recognize threats and attacks and to counter them, is essential. Certainly against the coronavirus pandemic that we all are facing, the first weapon is the prevention of infection. Therefore, it is pivotal to avoid crowded places, to keep the safety distance between people of 1 meter, better two meters or 6 feet, to wash often your hands with soap and water for a minute and to disinfect hands and surfaces with a solution prepared with water and alcohol, at least 60%. And we should not think, as unfortunately sometimes we read on social media, that it is enough to take a huge amount of vitamins or garlic to counteract this virus. But this does not take away the fundamental role played by the immune system. A healthy body with a low level of inflammation certainly puts the immune system in the best conditions to work and to protect us from attacks. We have seen, in previous articles, how we can support the immune system through the diet. We continue this analysis to understand which other foods can be protective or on the contrary may disturb the good work of the immune system.
Vitamin E proves useful to strengthen the immune system, in particular by stimulating the action of a particular group of white blood cells, called T cells (Pae et al, Aging Dis, 2012). T cells have been shown to play a role against various coronavirus strains although their action has not yet been studied against the novel coronavirus (Channappanavar et al, Immunol Res., 2014). The sources of vitamin E are plant based oils, such as sunflower oil, wheat germ oil, olive oil, but also walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, vegetables such as spinach, tomato and broccoli and avocado (Rizvi et al, Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J., 2014).
Probiotics strengthen the digestive tract but also have a beneficial effect on the immune system with a particular protective action on the respiratory tract (Pae et al, Aging Dis, 2012). For this purpose, you can choose, for example, from yogurts that indicate on the label the addition of probiotics, kefir, sauerkraut, miso or tempeh.
Some preparations that may weaken the immune system
A casserole of vegetable pie with cheeses or with a lot of béchamel sauce or a bar of milk chocolate prepared with a lot of white sugar, these are all undoubtedly delicious foods that, if eaten every now and then and within a varied diet, are not a problem. However, eating foods that cause liver overwork and blood sugar spikes often may bring an increase in inflammation levels that, if prolonged for a long time, becomes chronic and weakens the immune system, which is no longer alert and isn’t as effective as before at fighting external aggressions. Attention also, especially when you want to strengthen the immune system against infections, to preparations such as creamy pumpkin soup, creamy zucchini or carrot and onion soup that have a high glycemic load that is a condition that increases the inflammation levels (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food).