Do you experience high amounts of stress, get irritated by little things, aren’t able to concentrate on work, suffer from digestive disturbances or have a cold more often than usual? In fact, do your wounds take more time to heal than normal? Frequent infections? Do you feel tired all the time? All this could be due to a weak immune system!
Immunity is a balanced state of multicellular organisms having adequate defence to fight infection, disease or other unwanted biological invasion while also avoiding allergies and other autoimmune disease. The immune system also keeps a record of every microbe it has defeated so it can recognise and destroy the microbe if it enters the body again.
Bone marrow and thymus form the primary immune system and spleen, tonsils, lymph vessels, lymph nodes, adenoids, skin and liver form the secondary immune system.
- Bone marrow: helps produce white blood cells (T cells, B cells) which defend the body against infectious disease and foreign materials.
- Thymus: Situated at the base of the neck is most active in the neonatal and preadolescent period of development.
One of the best ways to build immunity is through nutrition. There are many foods that help us improve the immune system but there are also foods which can weaken it. During this Coronavirus pandemic, it has become increasingly important to take care of ourselves and build our immune system! In order to do that, we must avoid consuming things which can lower or harm our immunity levels.
Foods That You Must Avoid
1. Soda and Carbonated Beverages
This includes sweeteners like aspartame, saccharin, and sucralose, which are all harmful to the immune system. These ingredients reduce levels of beneficial bacteria in your gut and have an adverse effect on glucose metabolism which has an extended effect on how well our body responds to potential threats.
Solution: Choose water with few slices of fruits if you do not like having plain water or choose green tea with lemon which has good antioxidants. Drink green Tea in moderation.
2. Processed Foods and Refined Carbs
The large number of calories in processed food may lead to health problems such as increased inflammation, reduced control of infection, increased rates of cancer, and increased risk for allergic and auto-inflammatory disease by changing the balance of bacteria in our gut – all of which weaken the immune system
Solution: Include whole grain healthy snacks which are baked or roasted and not deep fried
3. Foods & Drinks High in Sugar
Drinks high in sugar spike insulin levels which spike cortisol and suppress the immune system. Unwanted bacteria thrive on sugar and the more sugar they have to feed on, the safer they grow, which will outnumber beneficial bacteria. This can have a negative effect on our mood, blood sugar levels and immune function. Increased sugar intake makes it difficult for the body to absorb Vitamin C, which eventually decreases immunity levels
Solution: Choose whole foods and natural sweeteners like honey which promote growth of healthy gut bacteria
4. Alcoholic Beverages
Drinking alcoholic beverages affects hormones by disrupting the circadian rhythm. As sleep is closely connected to the immune system, changes in circadian rhythm can make one feel unwell by having a negative effect on the immune system.
Solution: Alternate alcohol drinks with water or choose healthy snacks to have with alcohol to limit intake of alcohol.
Increased intake of caffeine (present in coffee and coffee products) boosts cortisol levels which reduces your immunity levels. Regular increased intake of caffeine reduces the number of T cells which are responsible for destroying the infected cells of the body.
Solution: Switch to low caffeine beverage and keep check on your intake of caffeine rich foods
6. Refined Oil
Oil can be incredibly healthy, providing much-needed fatty acids like omega-3 and vitamin E but only when they’re produced the right way. Refined oils go through a lot of heat processing which destroys the nutrients that we derive from fats. Eating food cooked in refined oils leads to production of free radicals that damage the tissues and cause temporary inflammation.
Solution: Switch to cold pressed oils and filtered oils which go through less or no heat processing, keeping the nutrients intact.
7. Junk Foods
Foods high in fat, sugar and low on fiber other than creating cravings, also destroys the immune system. The body responds to fast foods the same way it responds to an infection. The moment one consumes fast food our body identifies it as a threat and starts attacking faster than usual as it would react to a bacterial infection. These repeated reactions of the body leads to development of diabetes and heart diseases.
Solution: Choose healthy homemade snacks which have no added namkeen/crispies or are fried in healthy oils
We hope that this article helps you remain healthy during this time. It is crucial to keep our immunity levels in check and avoid foods that can destroy it.