A strong immune system is a foundation of health. A plant-centered diet rich in vitamins and minerals is one of the four pillars of a robust immune system – along with exercise, nutritive botanicals (supplemental herbs and spices), and sleep.
The health experts often remind us we “shouldn’t eat sugar”, “shouldn’t eat gluten”, and “shouldn’t certain fats”. Yes, this is good advice. But, something is missing from this equation? There is too much talk about what not to eat and too little focus on what to eat to enjoy excellent health.
In this article, I will discuss major nutrients that are missing from most modern diets. I also will explain how these “nutrient deficiencies” undermined your immune system and overall health. Lastly, I will share a list of foods that can help you feel vibrant and avoid illness.
Common Nutrients That Might Be Missing From Your Diet:
Our modern diets consist of large amounts of empty calories in the form of junk that us susceptible can result in nutrient deficiencies. When we fail to consume a balanced plant-centered diet containing fibrous grains, fruits, and vegetables we forsake many nutrients known to support a healthy immune system like:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
How Nutrient Deficiencies Undermine Your Immunity and Health?
Vitamin C is one of the predominant nutrients required for the effective functioning of the immune system. It is a strong antioxidant and a vital cofactor for hundreds of biosynthetic enzymes. When it comes to the synthesis of cartilage, repair of tissues, and strengthening the immune system; vitamin C is the key factor in all the above processes. It fights oxidative stress by neutralizing the free radicals and protecting against wear-and-tear at cellular levels.
Vitamin C accumulates in neutrophils (immune cells) and plays role destruction of harmful microbial by enhancing chemotaxis (movement of cells and chemicals towards sites of injury). It also supports phagocytosis (eating and killing of harmful germ) by white blood cells.
Lack of vitamin C can impair immune function rendering the body susceptible to frequent infections and chronic inflammation. Studies have shown that a diet rich in vitamin C helps to prevent and treat the various infections by boosting the immune system.
Vitamin E is another potent antioxidant that slows down aging by preventing oxidative damage and strengthens the immune system. It enhances the function of white blood cells known as T cells. Moreover, it protects other cells from internal toxins known as free radicals. Deficient levels of vitamin E can result in high levels of harmful free radicals that result in increased wear-and-tear on the body.
The mineral Zinc is essential for human health. It is required for sperm production and critical for a strong immune system. Moreover, it is needed for the production and maturation of immune cells such as neutrophils, macrophages, and NK (Natural Killer) cells. It is also a cofactor in multiple cellular reactions that activate immune pathways and protect against the stress of inflammation. Zinc deficiencies are linked to reduced immune function and an increased risk for prolonged infections. Data shows that adequate zinc reduced the duration of respiratory and gut infections.
How to get the nutrients you need?
Based on the above discussion, it is obvious that nutrients play a key role in immune function. When we fail to eat enough nutrient-dense foods, we can become deficient in important nutrients. When you are low in Zinc or vitamins C and E, your immune system can be compromised. By adding a few nutrient-rich foods to your daily diet you can easily avoid nutrient deficiency. Here are the excellent sources of the nutrients to support better immunity and greater health:
This vitamin is water-soluble. Sources agree that the minimum requirement of 40mg is needed to boost your immunity. Rich sources of vitamin C include oranges, strawberries, tangerines, grapefruits, kiwis, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, kale, and spinach.
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. Its minimum daily requirement of 10mg is recommended to receive important antioxidant benefits. Vitamin E is found nuts (almonds, peanuts, and hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower seeds), and leafy vegetables like broccoli and spinach.
This mineral is believed to be deficient in about 2 billion people worldwide; including 40% of the elderly population of the US. The current RDA (recommended dietary allowance) of zinc is 11mg per day. Good sources of zinc include lean meats, crabs, oysters, beans, yogurt, chickpeas, and eggs.
What Do You Think?
Are diets full of empty calories undermining our health?