14 June 2020 | Graal

What to eat to increase immunity?

In an era of increased risk of developing viral or bacterial infections, each of us wonders – what can you do for your own body to help its fight against microbes. “We are what we eat,” which is why the first thing that comes to mind in the context of improving immunity is diet. But what is the best diet for immunity?

Firstly – hydration

Research indicates that the majority of people living in Poland are chronically dehydrated. Think, are you a part of this group or do you drink at least a bottle of water a day? If not, it is worth making a change quickly, because it has been revealed that dehydration reduces the immune capabilities of the body. The body becomes more sensitive to both the effects of stressors and the penetration of microorganisms. Also, poor hydration not only affects the activity “inside” the body but also weakens the protective functions of the skin, making it more susceptible to the effects of harmful microorganisms.

Secondly – omega-3

Omega-3, i.e. polyunsaturated fatty acids, feature two of the most important representatives – docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). They have an extensive impact on the human body, including building body cells. They are also anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. In addition, they are also characterized by significant immunological activity. Regrettably, studies point out that we do not consume enough of them (at least 250 mg EPA and DHA daily), and during periods of reduced immunity or increased risk of viral or bacterial diseases, it is even necessary. Omega-3 affects the formation of anti-inflammatory factors, activation of macrophages (cells which “eat” microorganisms harmful to humans), neutrophils functioning (helper cells for macrophages). These are the most important, though not the only routes of the omega-3 immune response. So where can these beneficial fatty acids be found? The best nutritional source of EPA and DHA are fat-rich sea fish – salmon, mackerel, herring, eel, anchovies, sprat. It is recommended that at least 100 g of these fish should be eaten twice a week.

It is worth stressing that in order to meet the body’s demand for omega-3 through the consumption of fish, we do not have to rely solely on fresh fish. Choosing canned fish is particularly beneficial at a time when we avoid frequent shopping due to, for example, a high risk of a viral infection. The nutritional value of canned fish is comparable to fresh fish, and even when considering omega-3, canned fish can be more efficient. This is because canned fish are often preserved in oil, which is also a source of polyunsaturated fatty acids. A great advantage of canned fish is also their long shelf life and a large span of possibilities for their culinary use.

Thirdly – natural “boosters”

In a diet for immunity, it’s also worth remembering methods already familiar to our grandmothers. Particularly pro-immunity products include ginger, honey, and turmeric. They can be added to ready meals as well as smoothies and cocktails. You can even prepare drinking water with the addition of honey, turmeric, and ginger (see section “Firstly – hydration”). Ginger and turmeric contain anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. Whereas honey is a source of enzymes, which can exhibit antibacterial and antiviral functions. Combining these three natural ingredients, we are acting both precautionarily and we are mitigating the symptoms and development of already existing infections. Cheers!

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