A strong and healthy immune system protects us from external attacks by viruses, bacteria, parasites and fungi. That's why it's important to take care of it. How? With lifestyle, therefore not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, reducing chronic stress, practicing moderate physical activity, yoga and meditation, but also with diet. Some foods in fact, as we have seen in previous posts and as we will see below, show clear antibacterial and antiviral properties, other foods, instead, can induce inflammation that, in the long run, weakens the immune system. In any case it is better to underline that to avoid any infections, also against coronavirus, you need to follow the rules. In particular keep a safe distance between people of at least one meter, don’t touch the face with dirty hands and wash often the hands with water and soap.
Spices that strengthen the immune system, cinnamon, turmeric and cloves
Cinnamon is an exceptional spice, it gives a sweet and fragrant note to yogurt, fruit salad or desserts. Cinnamon helps to fight inflammation, it is antibacterial, antiviral, gastroprotective, antidiabetic and immunomodulating, that is, able to regulate the immune system (Shen et al, J Tradit Complement Med., 2012). Moreover, antiviral are also turmeric, thanks to its active ingredient, the curcumin, and cloves that directly act on the synthesis of the virus DNA with their active substance, the epigenin (D'Souza et al, J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med, 2017 - Cortes Rojas et al, Asian Pac J Trop Biomed., 2014). So, you can prepare a special seasoning for salads. Mix a teaspoon of turmeric, a pinch of black pepper and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, mix and pour over the salad. Oil and black pepper help curcumin to overcome the barrier of the stomach! Here's another idea, add a pinch of cinnamon to breakfast soy yogurt, maybe enriched with berries, a precious source of quercetin, a substance with a powerful antiviral action. Do you like a hot drink? Try the cinnamon and clove herbal tea. Bring a cup of water, two cloves and a stick of cinnamon to a boil for 3 minutes, remove from the heat and filter.
Health is served with legumes
To strengthen the immune system's defenses it is important not to forget legumes. For example, beans are a valuable source of antioxidants, which work by counteracting inflammations that, if becomes chronic, may weaken the immune system. Among the different types of beans we can mention red beans that, thanks to their interesting content in anthocyanins, particular antioxidant substances, show an antiviral action (Ye et al, J Protein Chem, 2001). Do not forget the lentils, a source of iron. An adequate supply of iron, in fact, helps the proper functioning of the immune system by ensuring an adequate response of the body's defenses to external aggressions (Soyano et al, Arch Latinom Nutr, 1999). In the Healthy Food section, you can find tasty preparations based on legumes, for example pasta and bean soup, or chili with red beans and whole grain pasta with tomato lentil sauce.
Pay attention to blood sugar spikes and liver overload
Dietary choices can help strengthen the immune system, as we have just seen, but in some cases they can also weaken it. This is the case, for example, of the combination of pasta and dairy products, such as the classic pasta with butter or the pasta with cheeses (Aufiero, the nutritional and therapeutic role of food). Nothing wrong with eating these dishes every now and then but the problem is if you often eat these recipes. In fact, this food combination tends to weigh down digestion and to make it difficult for the liver to work. This could cause an increase in inflammation levels in the body and a weakening of the defenses (Taipale et al, Sci Rep, 2018). Also the combination of pasta and potatoes, but also rice and boiled zucchini or, in general, the intake of refined cereals should also be limited for the excessive increase in the level of sugar in the blood. A blood sugar peak causes, indeed, an increase in insulin release that in turn generates inflammation. Nothing happens if it is an isolated event but if our lifestyle always involves refined pasta, refines bread and white rice, combined, for example, with potatoes, here is the risk of triggering chronic inflammation that, in the long run, weakens the immune system, which is no longer effective in countering external attacks (Berfudi et al, Curr Diabetes Rev, 2019).