With the arrival of the cold, the concern with immunity increases. It is not difficult to find people investing in vitamin C or analyzing a multivitamin in pharmacies – all this, in order to make the body more strengthened.
The vitamins and minerals, when properly ingested even leave the most protected body, they contribute to the improvement of the immune action. That is, colds, sore throats and other common illnesses in cold seasons are less likely to occur.
However, although it seems simpler to reinforce health with a vitamin supplement or compound, the ideal is to bet on good food well before temperatures start to drop.
It is nothing new that a balanced menu and healthy habits are the key to an organism better prepared to fight infections and harmful external agents. Therefore, it is worth changing the menu before resorting to supplements – and if you need to use them, only with medical or nutritional guidance
What is immunity and how do you know if it is low?
The human body has a powerful protection system against external agents: the immune system. It is a very complex and intelligent network of cells and molecules that are present throughout the body.
In general, the function of this network is to identify foreign agents and fight them effectively, keeping the body healthy and free from diseases that can develop. When this system is compromised, so-called low immunity occurs .
It can be triggered by other diseases (such as infections), autoimmune conditions, medication use and even lifestyle habits. This includes unruly eating, a sedentary lifestyle, alcohol abuse and a high stress load .
When it happens, the body gives signals that may be more intense or milder. Between them:
- Hair loss;
- Frequent colds and flu;
- Canker sores;
- Infections, such as candidiasis;
- Mental tiredness and lack of concentration.
Therefore, for the immune system to continue working properly, it is necessary that some good habits are followed by people – among them, investing in a balanced diet.
Nutrition plays a very important role in maintaining health as a whole, as it is through it that the body can obtain some nutrients, such as minerals and vitamins, essential for proper organic functioning.
Why is food important to maintain good immunity?
For the organism to function properly, producing cells capable of performing its functions correctly, it is essential that there is a good supply of nutrients.
As Évellyn Alves Gordiano, a nutritionist and master in nutrition, indicates, “immunity is influenced by several factors, including nutrition. For the cells of the immune system to function properly, it is necessary to ingest the appropriate nutrients, having a diet with adequate quality, quantity and variety ”.
That is, poor diet can trigger various conditions throughout the body. The lack of nutrients, for example, favors infections (as soon as the immune system cannot efficiently combat aggressive external agents).
But more serious conditions can also occur. According to the Brazilian Society of Immunology (SBI), the high consumption of carbohydrates can lead to weight gain and accumulation of fat in the liver (fatty liver). As a consequence, the cells residing in this organ can undergo changes, favoring the development of diseases such as liver dysfunction.
Therefore, the ideal is to bet on fresh food as the main source of obtaining nutrients, as directed by the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population. In other words, the base must be composed of foods that do not undergo changes or processing (such as the addition of dyes, flavorings, among others).
Good examples to prioritize are leaves, vegetables, fruits, milk and eggs.
Évellyn Alves Gordiano also points out that “when food follows these basic principles, there will hardly be a lack of any vitamin or mineral, in general”. However, if nutritional deficiencies are identified, the use of supplements may be indicated in conjunction with dietary re-education .
Thus, resorting to supplements should be done with medical or nutritional guidance and, preferably, when it is not possible to meet the needs through food.
This is because, under normal conditions of the organism, it is much easier to be able to ingest all the nutrients in an adequate way through a balanced menu – for that, it is enough to diversify the dish.
Which vitamins participate in high immunity?
It is worth remembering that for a healthy organism, the ideal is to ingest all vitamins and minerals in a balanced way. For this, there is no secret: invest in a balanced dish, with priority to fresh foods , and avoid frequent consumption of those industrialized and nutritionally poor.
It is necessary to consider the needs of each organism, but for those who have no special restrictions or conditions, in general, Évellyn Gordiano recommends that, when in doubt, one can opt for the Healthy Dish model , suggested by the Food Guide for the Brazilian Population .
For lunch and dinner, for example, just organize the meal in the following proportions: 50% of salads and vegetables (to better enjoy the nutrients, it is important to diversify the choices), 25% of carbohydrates (such as rice, beans , potatoes , cassava) and 25% protein (meat, eggs, lean cheeses).
For those who choose a vegan diet, it is worth betting on foods such as flaxseed, quinoa , soy, tofu, chickpeas or peas instead of animal proteins. There is also no lack of options for a balanced and vegan dish.
Read more: How to consume Quinoa ?
Still, it is important to understand that following a balanced diet is not dieting , but building varied menus that meet the needs of the body – without, for that, it is necessary to abolish those sweets or fried foods for good. Moderation is the key to a healthy body.
At the time of putting together the list of foods that give strength to immunity, it is worth having a balanced intake of all nutrients, and some are:
The vitamin A is very important for the immune system because it works by reducing the damage to the DNA of cells. It also participates in diverse functions, such as vision, gene expression and reproduction, in addition to being very important during embryonic development.
Preformed vitamin A (called retinol) is present in foods of animal origin, such as meat and milk, while vitamin A in the form of carotenoids (which are converted in the body) is present in oils, vegetables and fruits.
Vitamin B6 helps in the metabolism of proteins, carbohydrates and fats, also participating in the process of formation of hemoglobins, which are red blood cells.
Fruits such as bananas , chestnuts, chicken, salmon and liver, as well as lentils and spinach are some good sources of the nutrient.
Perhaps one of the most famous vitamins when it comes to immunity, vitamin C has an important action in maintaining lymphocytes, which are defense cells. It also participates in the regeneration of skin cells and mucous membranes.
As it stimulates defense cells, vitamin C is remembered when the cold comes, and the goal is to prevent colds and flu. To strengthen the body, then, it is worth betting citrus fruits, such as orange, lemon and acerola.
Although the most famous way to obtain it is through sun exposure, vitamin D is also found in foods, such as fish, natural fish liver oils and mushrooms. It plays an important role in the immune system, in addition to its role in bones – in which it participates in calcium metabolism and bone formation.
The vitamin E have antioxidant properties, which help slow the aging of cells. So it is quite common to see it in the composition of creams and skincare products.
It gives immense strength and immunity and can be easily found in foods such as oilseeds (such as nuts, almonds and peanuts), wheat germ, olive oil and avocado.
Tips to boost immunity with vitamins
That a good diet is indispensable to keep health up to date no one doubts. But some doubts arise when it comes to whether the immunity is really good.
This is because it is useless to consume many vitamins and sin in other important aspects, such as the practice of physical activities and stress reduction.
In addition, it is worth reinforcing again that the intake of nutrients should preferably be through an adequate dietary routine. That is, using supplements is for those who have medical guidance, since the varied menu is for all people.
Those who adopt a healthy lifestyle can keep their bodies functioning properly throughout the year. Therefore, when winter comes, and with it the highest incidence of respiratory diseases, the body is better prepared to deal with external agents.
Of course, a good diet does not completely prevent infections, nor can it prevent other changes in the body on its own. But it already gives a great help in reducing the risks of diseases, among them, type 2 diabetes , hypertension, high cholesterol, anemia and others.
Vitamin C prevents cold in winter?
It is not difficult to observe that, with the arrival of the cold, the consumption of vitamin C – by food or supplements – is higher. It is in fact quite important for the health of the body, acting as a powerful antioxidant. Along with other nutrients, vitamin C helps to keep the immune system working properly. Which means more protection in cold times.
However, as Évellyn Gordiano points out, she does not work alone – intensifying consumption, but sinning in other nutrients will not have the expected result in immunity. In order for health to be actually favored, balance and an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals as a whole are needed.
Therefore, fibers, carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, zinc and other nutrients, in adequate quantities, will help the body to go through the winter (and all other seasons) more resistant.
Regarding vitamin C itself, the nutritionist points out that the body has a very efficient mechanism for nutritional use. So, if there is a deficiency, it starts to absorb this nutrient from food faster – but, again, it is necessary to maintain an adequate diet for this.
However, before investing in a supplement, it is worth understanding what the behavior of vitamin C in the body is. It is water-soluble, which means that, in general, the body cannot store it in significant quantities. Thus, it is metabolized and, through renal function, eliminated in the urine.
That is, investing some time in supplements will not increase the amount of vitamin C in the body, as it should be routinely ingested in adequate doses. In addition, nutritionist Évellyn Alves Gordiano warns that, in excess, the nutrient can have the reverse effect.
Instead of neutralizing free radicals, it goes like a pro-oxidant – that is, it causes oxidative stress.
“With a balanced diet it is unlikely that there will be an imbalance in the function of vitamin C as an antioxidant, however, when a food supplement is used this may occur”, points out the nutritionist. In other words, it is always worth betting on a balanced dish that favors fresh foods .
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