There are viruses and bacteria all around us. We cannot see them but that we are exposed to them every day. Why is it, then, that we rarely get sick? It is because our bodies have an immune system.
Our white blood cells, in particular, play an important role in our immune system, acting as soldiers that help to fight against germs that invade our bodies each day, and helping us to remain largely unaffected by them.
For people who often get sick, however, such as with frequent colds, allergies, recurring infections, etc., these are warning signs that their physical health is weak and the white blood cell “soldiers” in their bodies are in a weakened state.
There are a number of factors that can help to strengthen these white blood cells, such as getting enough rest, managing stress, getting regular exercise, and eating healthy foods to promote good health.
When we don’t have a healthy diet, don’t exercise, are stressed, and aren’t getting sufficient rest, diseases can attack much more easily. Sometimes the body’s immune system is also weakened due to other unknown causes, which may be the result of our own lack of proper care for our health. The immune system is our first line of defence against disease.
Colorful Foods Boost Our Immunity Against Disease
The food we eat can act as medicines to help treat and prevent disease. When we eat in a healthy way, our bodies can benefit from the nutrients that we take in. Let’s take a look at some of the details of each food colour group:
Green fruits and vegetables are rich in substances such as chlorophyll, carotenoid, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Examples of green fruits and vegetables include green apples, green grapes, kiwis, broccoli, kale, asparagus, avocado, green cabbage, cucumbers, and spinach.
Red & Pink Foods
Important substances found in red fruits and vegetables include lycopene, betacyanin, quercetin, hesperidin, and anthocyanin. Examples of red fruits and vegetables include strawberries, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, pomegranates, red grapes, watermelon, roselle flowers, tomatoes, beetroot, red peppers, and red onions.
Purple and Blue Foods
Purple and blue fruits and vegetables contain important substances such as anthocyanin and phenolic acid. Examples of these include purple grapes, blueberries, blackberries, prunes, eggplant, purple cabbage, purple sweet potatoes, black sticky rice and leum pua rice.
Yellow and Orange Foods
Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables contain important substances such as carotenoids (some of which convert into vitamin A in the body), flavonoids, and vitamin C. Examples of yellow and orange fruits and vegetables include oranges, bananas, passion fruit, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple, carrots, pumpkins, yams, corn, sweet potatoes, and yellow bell peppers.
Important substances found in white fruits and vegetables include beta glucan, which is frequently found in mushrooms, and substances in the flavonoids group. White fruits and vegetables include pears, custard apples, lychees, mangosteen, radishes, cauliflower, ginger, garlic, and mushrooms.
Increase Mushroom Intake to Bolster Your Immune System
Mushrooms, in addition to being a good source of protein and other vitamins and minerals, also contain important substances useful in helping boost the body’s immune system, including:
Triterpenes help to modulate and inhibit cancer cell proliferation, prevent allergies, lower blood pressure, and reduce blood lipids.
Nucleotides help with pain relief and prevent virus growth.
Germanium helps to enhance the body’s immune system, nourish the nervous system, brain, and heart, and stimulate the circulatory system.
Ergosterol is a substance that helps to strengthen the bones and teeth.
Beta glucans are an active ingredient comprising a special class of polysaccharides. More than 1,000 academic research reports have confirmed that Beta 1,3/1,6 glucan can help to boost the immune system. This type of beta glucan is found in the cell walls of bakers’ yeast (saccharomyces cerevisiae) and mushrooms such as the lingzhi mushroom (ganoderma lucidum), cordyceps, and others.
With the fast-paced lives we live, we may not often find the time to purchase and cook a lot of mushrooms. However, there are currently a variety of supplements that can help to bolster immunity and prevent disease that contain a combination of five mushroom types, including the lingzhi mushroom, shiitake mushroom, maitake mushroom, yamabushita mushroom, and cordyceps extract. This is yet another option that can help to strengthen your body’s immune system.
In addition to choosing a diet comprising a variety of healthy foods, we can also enhance our quality of life by getting regular exercise and sufficient sleep, managing stress levels, refraining from smoking and consuming alcohol, and controlling weight gain, so that our body’s immune system can remain strong and help keep us disease-free and healthy.
The author of this peer-reviewed article is Jitkae Thepchatre, M.D. from the Samitivej Sukhumvit Hospital.