Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients. Some of the essential nutrients which are critical for the growth and function of immune cells for overall healthy immunity are as follows:
These are the major building blocks of our body and are responsible for the healthy development of all our digestive enzymes, immunoglobulin, hormones and almost all the tissues. It is proven scientifically that lack of essential proteins in diet impairs immunity with harmful effects on T-cell system which increases the chances of infection and results in increased morbidity and mortality. The common sources of proteins include milk and milk products, lean meat, eggs, grains, nuts, beans, vegetables etc.
Vitamin C is one of the most essential micronutrients, a potent antioxidant and a cofactor for a variety of enzymes. Vitamin C helps to strengthen both innate and adaptive immune responses. Regular consumption of vitamin C has shown to prevent frequent cold and cough and may also help improve the time of recovery. The common sources of Vitamin C are fruits, amla, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes etc.
Zinc (Zn) is an essential dietary mineral that can help boost the immune system and thus has shown to protect against the common cold and other infectious diseases. Scientifically it is proven that if taken within a day of the first symptoms, zinc may prevent them from worsening and can also reduce the duration of disease.
Adequate amount of Vitamin D in the diet and proper exposure to sunlight has shown to benefit in the overall healthy immune functioning. Vitamin D deficiency is also shown to be associated with a higher risk for autoimmunity and increase in susceptibility to infections. The common sources of Vitamin D are sunlight, fatty fish and seafood, mushrooms and egg yolk.
Iron is considered to be a highly important mineral in the healthy functioning of all living animals. As we all know, it is the vital mineral for blood formation and also performs an important function of carrying oxygen to cells. Deficiency of iron has shown to reduce the immune functions and is responsible for frequent infections. The common sources of iron are beans and lentils, soya and tofu, potatoes, cashews, dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, whole-grain etc.
There are other micronutrients which contribute to improving the specific components of immune system and ultimately protect you from infections. These are Vitamin E, Selenium, Probiotics, and Prebiotics like dietary fibers, herbs like (Garlic, Giloy, Amla, Haldi etc.)
To summarize the nutritional impact on immunity and overall wellbeing, we can say that a balanced diet enriched with all sorts of cereals, grains, beans, fruits, milk and milk products and essential herbs can help you balance the micronutrient requirements and in-turn help build a stronger immune system. This should be complemented with proper sleep, and an active and stress-free lifestyle.