The ‘Soldiers’ Within; Boosting Immunity
Growing up, one cartoon character stood out not only because of how interesting he was but how he subliminally passed on the message of vegetables and a better, healthier you. That character is none other than Popeye the sailor man. Whenever he wanted to have an upper hand in conquering his enemies, he would pop open a can of spinach, consume and what would follow thereafter would be a bulging of muscles and of course a big win from his enemies.
Besides the strength, is there something else that he was cleverly teaching us? Of course, yes. This happened at a time when we hated our serving of vegetables as young children and parents would make us change our perception through the animation. A well-deserved clap to our parents because it worked on some of us and we ended up loving our daily dose of vegetables to a point it is unfathomable how one can do a meal with no veggies.
By now, you get the drift. This comes at a point when the scourge of COVID-19 has greatly affected the world. As of 16th March 2020, 2.1 billion mentions had been made with regards to Coronavirus. If this has not hit you yet, 2.1 billion mentions are a tad high, higher than HIV/AIDS, SARS, cancer, TB and Ebola.
So many precautionary measures have been put in place but in addition to them, we also need to focus on immunity-boosting. This is not only for the COVID-19 crisis but also for the illnesses that are with us daily such as cancer, flu, TB and HIV/AIDS. From this the question then arises, do we need supplements? Are there foods that can help boost our immunity and what practices exist of the same?
The primary mandate of the immune system is to prevent or inhibit infection. The system can distinguish between normal, healthy cells and unhealthy cells by recognizing a variety of cues. When the system cannot be activated when there is a need, infections arise. In addition to that, all immune cells come from precursors in the bone marrow and are spread throughout the body making the system invasive. The main components of this system are the white blood cells (leukocytes), phagocytes and lymphocytes.
The human immune system comprises of 3 types. The innate system is what we are born with, adaptive develops as we go through life when we are exposed to the disease-causing organisms (pathogens) or through vaccination whereas the passive system is defined as borrowed more so the case of mother to a child. It is the passive system that helps the infant fight off pathogens at such an early age.
A healthy immune system requires good and regular nourishment. There exists a close relationship between nutrition and the immune system. Micronutrient malnutrition weakens our immune system; it is recorded that the deficiency of Zinc, Selenium, Iron, Copper, Folic Acid, Vitamins A, B6, C, and E will significantly contribute to an altered immune system.
In addition to the aforementioned micronutrients, antioxidant properties present in food are equally necessary for boosting immunity. Fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants; a daily serving of 5 portions of fruits and vegetables is enough to ger your micronutrients in check and hence no need for supplementation. Herbs and spices, on the other hand, should be incorporated for their nutrients and anti-microbial properties.
In addition to the diet, some of the practices that exist to improve our immune system include;
- Restorative sleep for at least 7-8 hours
- Low and moderate exercise
- Reducing or even avoiding alcohol and substance abuse
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Maintaining a positive attitude
- Regular intake of pro-biotic products to increase the intestinal microbiome
Whether at home under the lockdown or private quarantined, consider getting our Neem Tea, Wheatgrass powder and Uji Afya for their excellent immune-boosting ability. More so, in addition to getting the dried staples also consider some fruits and vegetables. This will not only help you get by during this period but also for later in getting an improved, healthy and efficient immune system.