Your body is a wonderland! I guess we have all heard this song by John Mayer before quite a few times, haven't we? But let me tell you all jokes aside, your body is indeed a wonderland, full of surprises and an internal web of systems that keep our body running for years together, without stopping or asking for breaks. One such very interesting and important system of our body is the immune system, which in simple terms is a shield that protects the body and defends it against millions and billions of viruses, toxins, microbes, bacteria, and parasites. The strength with which the immune system defends our body is known as our Immunity.
Now the question arises is what exactly comprises of our immune system! Who all are the team members that keep our body healthy and protected. The major players are white blood cells, antibodies, skin, bone marrow, lymph nodes, and other components including some organs. The health and wellness of each player are important to determine the immunity power of an individual. This immunity power gets affected by the lifestyle of each person respectively. For example, if individual A follows a healthy diet, has a proper sleep-wake cycle, exercises daily, and keeps the stress minimal, he would have a high immunity power. on the other hand, individual B does the complete opposite and eats junk food or skips meals, has a poor sleep-wake cycle, does not indulge in physical activities, and takes an immense amount of stress, he would end up having a poor immune system or even immunodeficiency disorders.
To keep your immunity high and your immune system's strength unbeatable, you need to make sure that your body gets the healthy lifestyle that it needs to perform. It is important to make sure the diet is adequate and it provides the essential vitamins and minerals, that play a crucial role in keeping the immunity in its prime always. The list of essential nutrients can be endless but we have taken out the foundation building few, that rank high on the priority list.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body needs for growth, development, 6/6 vision, healthy skin, reproduction, and immune system. This vitamin supports white blood cells in capturing and removing bacteria and other foreign pathogens from the body. It also helps in lowering inflammation in the body. To get vitamin A in your diet you need to focus on colourful vegetables and fruits called carotenoids. The body converts these carotenoids into vitamin A, which works as an antioxidant and helps the immune system fight against infection. The rich sources of this vitamin are carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, squash, and pumpkin.
Recommended daily intake: 700 - 900mcg
Well it is a lesser-known fact by many that vitamin D is not a vitamin, it's a hormone! Vitamin D does not work as a cofactor for enzymes but it directly enters the nucleus of the cell and influences gene expression, and by doing so it plays a big shot role in the immune response. Vitamin D has a dense history as doctors and practitioners for centuries have relied on this vitamin to prevent and fight infections. The known food sources of vitamin D are less, like egg yolk, fatty fish, milk, orange juice, and cereals.
Recommended daily intake: 400 - 800IU
Folate is the natural form, and folic acid is the synthesized version of it, that often is added to food items because of its health benefits. Folic acid is a B vitamin that is vital for the maintenance and production of cells in the human body. It is required to make DNA and RNA. Folate occurs naturally in vegetables, fruits, dried beans, and peas.
Recommended daily intake: 400 - 800mcg
Iron has always played a major part in the body. When we think of iron and its benefits we majorly thing about blood. But iron has more responsibility to it like carrying oxygen to the blood, eliminating fatigue, maintaining immune system functions, preventing and eliminating anemia, boosting hemoglobin, and plenty of other functions. Iron-rich foods consist of chicken, turkey, eggs, seafood, beans, broccoli, and kale.
Recommended daily intake: 10 - 45mg (maximum limit)
Zinc is known as a trace mineral that plays a big role in keeping the immune system strong. Some researchers have even called it a "gatekeeper" as the immune cells depend on zinc. It helps in the regulation of our body's first line of defense as well as the backup defense system for when the frontline immune system gets exhausted. It also reduces the duration of cold symptoms and infections, while controlling the inflammation levels of the body. The foods high in zinc are oysters, crab, lean meats, beans, chickpeas, yogurt, and eggs.
Recommended daily intake: 8 - 11mg