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Immune system, the best diet able to strengthen it and the diet that could weaken it

Immune system, the best diet able to strengthen it and the diet that could weaken it

March 15, 2020
Garlic and onion protect the immune system, be careful to eat too much red and processed meat which could increase the levels of chronic inflammation
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The coronavirus emergency has made it clear, now more than ever, how important it is to have an immune system able to work at its best. We can do a lot to limit possible infections by reducing social relations, by following hygiene rules, such as washing often the hands, but certainly we can also strengthen the immune system to put it in the best conditions to fight the external aggressions. The immune system depends on several factors and there is no miraculous tablet or food capable, in an instant, of raising a shield against any type of aggression. We should consider the immune system as a garden that we have to take care of every day with gestures and attentions. So do not smoke, limit the intake of alcoholic beverages, as excessive alcohol consumption weakens the immune system with repercussions especially on the airways. In fact, an alcohol abuse may cause an unbalance of the functioning of the immune system cells including those of the type T, which have been shown to play a role against various strains of coronavirus even if it has not been tested on the novel coronavirus (Channappanavar et al, Immunol Res., 2014 - Pasala et al, Alcohol Res, 2015). Not only that, in order to support the immune system, it is important to sleep a fair number of hours but also to eat in a healthy and varied way, guaranteeing energy to the body and, through some foods, also vitamins, mineral salts and antioxidants useful for the health of the immune system. So let's see some culinary preparations that can support or, on the contrary, weaken the immune system causing excessive stress in the body. Next time we will see other indications.

Preparations able to boost the immune system, sauces with garlic

The antibacterial properties of garlic are well documented. But what is interesting to note is that garlic also shows antiviral properties. In particular, two active ingredients of garlic such as allicin and ajoene (Bayan et al, Avicenna J Phytomed., 2014) have shown to be active against influenza A and B, viral pneumonia, rhinovirus and herpes simplex. So a bruschetta with garlic and some cherry tomatoes cut into pieces and seasoned with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil allows you to guarantee the beneficial action of garlic on the immune system. A pasta with pesto is also excellent, but not just basil pesto. In fact, for example, you can prepare an excellent pesto with garlic and radish leaves, or with garlic and kale or with black cabbage, in the Healthy Food section you can find how to prepare these delicious dishes.

Preparations able to boost the immune system, the onion

Onion contains quercetin, which is a powerful antioxidant flavonoid. Quercetin has shown to be antiviral. In particular, quercetin is able to inhibit the infectivity and replication of the herpes virus, adenovirus and flu in vitro. Not only that, it has been observed also that quercetin is able to inhibit the proliferation of the SARS virus, which belongs to the coronavirus strain (Ganesan et al, Antiviral Res, 2013). Hence, a thinly sliced onion added to salads, perhaps with a teaspoon of capers, another important source of quercetin, can help strengthen the immune system. It is always better to prefer raw onion, quercetin in fact tends to degrade if subjected to heat (Buchner et al, Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom, 2006).

Beware of red meat

Eating red meat within a balanced diet and a few times a week has no contraindications, unless you have made a lifestyle choice that excludes meat or animal products in your diet. However, don’t exaggerate with its intake, as a high consumption of red and processed meat is associated with an increase in the levels of chronic inflammation in the body (Chai et al, J Am Coll Nutr, 2017). Chronic inflammation, in the long run, can cause a weakening of the immune system.

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