Good nutrition is one of the first sources of well-being and choosing the right foods helps us feel better, have more energy and cope with times of stress.
“ We are what we eat ”, the German Feuerbach claimed, with good reason, as early as 1800. Although his reflection touched on much broader philosophical and political themes, today we can affirm that, in the light of more recent studies, the literal interpretation of the same expression is also correct: our good health is born at the table, depending on what we eat.
There is a close link between the foods we eat and the health of our immune system. As numerous researches show, there are nutrients that more than others are involved, directly and indirectly, in the correct functioning of our body and its natural defences.
Thanks to daily nutrition we can in fact strengthen our immune system, a real shield against external attacks. Where does the first care come from? From food.
Discover with us the 10 essential foods to improve the immune system.
1. Yogurt (vegan) and probiotics
Our antibodies are formed mainly in the intestine, a real immune bulwark of our body: the health of the intestine is essential for our health and to keep it in balance it is necessary to
regularly take probiotics, microorganisms that act on the gastrointestinal system and on the composition of the intestinal microbiota.
A food that can be consumed daily, rich in probiotics and live and active lactic ferments, is yoghurt. Preferably white and without sugar, it is a precious ally to increase immune defences.
2. Citrus fruits and vitamin C
We have known since childhood that vitamin C helps the body's ability to resist infections and seasonal ailments. Among the fruits that contain the most, we find citrus fruits whose regular consumption consolidates the defenses of our immune system, especially if taken fresh and raw in the winter season.
3. Green tea and antioxidants
Resistance to infections can be improved by supplying the body with antioxidants, chemical compounds that help defend itself from the attack of harmful agents and from the state of oxidative stress and which have the task of fighting other molecules, such as free radicals.
Green tea is a rich source of flavonoids, a group of polyphenols with powerful antioxidant activity and, for this reason, it is considered one of the most powerful allies for strengthening the immune system and preventing disease. Furthermore, the substances present in green tea help to reduce the levels of LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol) and the level of triglycerides in the blood, promoting correct cardiovascular functions.
A cup of green tea every morning can become a pleasant and good habit.
4. All the goodness of wild berries
Staying on the subject of antioxidants, even the consumption of fresh berries, especially in summer, contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system and counteracts the production of free radicals.
Known above all for their delicacy, berries are a real cure-all for our body: they contain vitamins, mineral salts and fibres.
5. Garlic, a natural antibacterial
Although not always appreciated by everyone, garlic has been, since ancient times, one of the most faithful allies of the immune system, thanks to its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. The high sulfur content counteracts bacterial growth and helps keep our intestines clean and healthy, while allicin has antimicrobial and antibiotic effects that significantly contribute to boosting the immune system.
Those who just can't stand the consumption of fresh garlic can reap the same advantage of its benefits by adding it in reduced quantities or in powder form to their recipes.
6. Dried fruit: a supply of Omega 3
The function of Omega 3 and its nutritional intake is essential to ensure the health of the organism.
Precious allies of the cardiovascular system, Omega 3 are essential fatty acids capable of positively intervening on triglycerides and blood pressure. They also counteract inflammation and cellular ageing.
It is possible to include a source of Omega 3 in your daily diet thanks to dried fruit: walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pistachios, and oilseeds such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower and flax seeds are a privileged source of polyunsaturated fatty acids .
These foods, especially sunflower seeds, almonds and hazelnuts, also contain high amounts of vitamin E, are rich in iron, calcium and zinc.
You can consume nuts and oilseeds for breakfast, with plain yoghurt, or you can take them with you for a healthy snack, at any time of the day.
7. One serving of whole grains per day
The whole family of whole grains, starting with barley, rice, wheat and spelt (also in the form of flakes), provides a good supply of sulfur amino acids (proteins). Consuming one or two servings a day (80-120 grams) is a great help to the immune system.
Thanks to their high fibre content, they promote intestinal function, which is essential for the health of bacterial flora.
They are also a good source of zinc, an important factor in the synthesis of white blood cells.
8. Legumes: the superheroes of food
Real superfoods, legumes have been a staple food since the origins of human civilization. They are a source of proteins, carbohydrates and fibres and allow us to fill up on vitamins and minerals.
Chickpeas, beans, lentils have benefits on the immune defences because they favour the production of antibodies thanks to lysine, an essential amino acid essential for the health of our body.
Considered a poor food for many years, legumes have returned to the fore, included in numerous recipes, also thanks to their marked versatility in the kitchen.
9. Cocoa is a marvel for the immune system
We all know the positive effects of chocolate on mood, but the benefits it can have on our immune system are much less known.
According to recent studies, in fact, chocolate is a powerful anti-inflammatory and its benefits increase based on the percentage of cocoa contained within the product.
Cocoa, a fruit from the Theobroma cacao plant, thanks to the presence of flavonoids, has a strong antioxidant action that fights free radicals. Furthermore, according to a study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, high doses of cocoa potentiate T-helper cells, a subgroup of lymphocytes, capable of improving the adaptation of our defences to changing infections.
10. Carrots and orange power
Orange fruit and vegetables are rich in vitamin A, an immunostimulant capable of providing a greater defence of the mucous membranes. Among these, carrots prove to be a veritable mine of beneficial substances. The positive influence on the immune system is also given by the strong presence of vitamin C.
The health of one's immune system is built day by day, with a varied and careful diet, without major sacrifices, but leaving room for all the foods that contribute to improving it.