During times of ailment and in the flu season, people frequently look for vitamins and nutrition enhancement to maintain a robust immune system. Consistently, we are exposed to different types of harmful germs and environmental toxins that depress our immunity and become the reason for illness or some disease. Our immune system is a set of cells and proteins that fight against these germs and ensures the proper functioning of the human body. It identifies harmful viruses and bacteria in our body and takes immediate steps to suppress their adverse effects. Thus, to stay healthy and fit, it is essential to maintain a robust immune system by eating a balanced diet, exercising daily, and getting enough sleep.
Balanced diet and Immune system
A diet consisting of various types of foods with an adequate amount of protein, vitamins, carbohydrates, and other essential nutrients in the required proportion is known as a balanced diet. This can be easily achieved from the four primary food groups, i.e. Vegetables and Fruits, Cereals and Pulses, Meat, and Oils and nuts. An ideal balanced diet should contain 45-55% of carbohydrates, 10-35% of proteins, and 20-35% fats. Besides these macronutrients, a balanced diet should include ample antioxidants and phytochemicals that are equally essential for our body.
Understand the differences within nutrients
Carbohydrates and Fats are the two primary nutrients of a balanced diet. Carbohydrate’s function is to provide energy, and fats are essential for hormone production. But carbohydrates and fats are further separated based on more-healthy and less-healthy nutrients. Let us know about carbs and fats in detail.
Carbohydrates are among the necessary macronutrients that provide energy to the muscles. They are the essential energy source for the central nervous system and additionally keep protein from being utilized as an energy source. They are divided into two types, simple and complex.
Simple carbs contain fructose and galactose. Fructose found in fruits and galactose found in milk are called single sugar or monosaccharide. They are easily absorbed by the body and provide instant energy. Simple carbs are made up of processed and refined sugar, which can be found in soda, soft drinks, and candies. They don’t contain essential minerals, vitamins, or fibers. Excess intake of simple carbs can result in weight gains and a high blood sugar level.
Complex carbs are often referred to as starchy foods like cereals, peas, beans, corn, potatoes, etc. which gives more sustained energy. They take more time to digest. Complex carbs make you feel full for a longer time and help in controlling your appetite. Thus, it is advised to maintain a diet with more complex carbs and less simple carbs.
Fats are the source of energy storage and essential for developing hormones and cells in the human body. Fats are distinguished as saturated and unsaturated. It is crucial to maintain a balance between dietary fats to stay fit and optimize our immunity.
Saturated fats are solid fats better known as bad fat found in cheese, butter, cream, coconut oil, palm oil, etc. These fats are less healthy and cast a negative impact on our health. Excess intake of saturated fats can increase the risk of heart disease. According to health experts, these fats are not to be boycotted from the diet. Their consumption should be reduced to 7-10% of the total fat intake as some amount of fats are required for the healthy functioning of the human body.
Unsaturated fats have a positive effect on our health. These are found in Olive oil, Sunflower oil, oily fish like salmon, etc. They improve insulin sensitivity, reduce LDL (bad cholesterol), and triglycerides (fats present in the blood). It is advised to maintain a low level of saturated fat in a diet or replace it with unsaturated fats and carbs to improve cardiovascular health.
Prefer protein-rich snacks and meals
Protein is made up of various amino acids and is the basic and essential component to keep your body growing. Some amino acids are referred to as essential that must be acquired from the protein diet. Other non-essential amino acids can be integrated into the body to make proteins. The requirement of protein varies with age. Infants and pregnant women require maximum protein. Whereas, an adult should consume 0.8 gms of protein per kg of their weight.
Proteins can be found in milk, meat, fish, egg, legumes, broccoli, pulses, etc. Animal proteins are of high quality as they provide all necessary amino acids in the correct proportion. However, a combination of cereals and pulses can also provide the required balance.
It is advised by health experts to limit the consumption of red meat and intake proteins that have a low content of saturated and Trans fats.
Focus more on Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential because they perform numerous operations in the human body. For example, minerals like sodium and potassium are required to maintain a proper water balance in our body. Mineral like Zinc has anti-viral properties that help our immune system function well and enhance the healing capacity of wounds. Minerals can be obtained from lean meat, beans, seafood, avocado, nuts, and seeds, etc. It is advised to maintain a balance among all minerals as the increment of one mineral can lead to the absorption of others.
Vitamin B and Vitamin C are water-soluble vitamins. They are absorbed directly into the blood during the digestion of food. Vitamin B is the main element of certain coenzymes that release energy from the food during digestion. It enhances eyesight, increases the growth of RBC, and ensures healthy brain function. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) and B12 (cobalamin) are necessary for cells to multiply and grow. Vitamin B can be found in milk, banana, watermelon, potato, spinach, soya products, etc. Vitamin B 12 can be found in rice, peas, chicken, yogurt, salmon, tuna, crabs, etc. Vitamin C is necessary to make collagen and support the walls for blood vessels. It is obtained from papaya, orange, tomato juice, etc.
Vitamin A and Vitamin D are fat-soluble vitamins that maintain the proper functioning of lungs, eyes, and nervous systems. Deficiency of Vitamin A can lead to eyesight issues. Vitamin A can be obtained from carrot, red peas, spinach, cantaloupe, fish, etc. Whereas, Vitamin D can be obtained from sun exposure, almonds, lentils, sunflower seeds. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in our body for a long time, and water-soluble vitamins are excreted in the urine.
Indulge in moderate exercise and keep track of your BMI
Regular exercise is essential for a healthy life. A regular moderate exercise can boost your immunity in the long run. It helps to maintain your body weight and enhances liquid circulation in your body, promoting faster growth of muscles. Moderate exercises can include lightweight activities at the gym, swimming, cycling, jogging, and hiking.
BMI stands for Body Mass Index. It is a value obtained from the mass and height, used to categorize a person as underweight (below 18.5 kg/m2), normal weight (18.5 to 25 kg/m2), overweight (25 to 30 kg/m2) and obese (over 30 kg/m2). It is advised to maintain a healthy BMI. Maintaining a normal BMI reduces muscle and joint pain, increases blood circulation, controls blood pressure, reduces triglycerides from blood, controls blood sugar level, and has many benefits.
BMI can be known by the following formula: –
BMI= weight in kg / height in meter sq.
There is a thin line between eating just enough (considered healthy) and overeating (considered harmful). To strengthen your immune system, you must get rid of eating junk and follow a balanced diet. Reduce sugar level in your diet, stay hydrated, workout daily, and get proper sleep. The correct balance of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals in your diet will strengthen your immune system and ensure that you stay healthy. Always remember, a right balance is the only key to immunity.