The immune system is the body’s line of defense against diseases and infection. The WHO in the current pandemic situation states that good nutrition is crucial for health. Especially at a time when the immune system might need to resist contracting diseases. During these times of pandemic, it is seen that people are often looking for super foods or vitamin, mineral supplements to boost their immunity.
Immunonutrition can be described as a form of modulation of either the activity of the immune system, or modulation of the consequences of activation of the immune system, by the help of nutrients or specific food items fed in amounts above those normally encountered in the diet.
Although we do not have much data concerning nutritional factors in relation to the severity of viral diseases like COVID-19, but the role of nutrition in boosting immunity has been well established.
Role of Nutrients:
1) Role of Vitamins/Minerals:
Depending upon a variety of research and studies – vitamins and minerals like A, B6, folate, B12, C, D, E, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium are particularly important for boosting immune response.
2) Role of Proteins:
Sulphur contains amino acids which enhance the antioxidant status by maintaining the concentrations of glutathione. It is one of the vital antioxidants in the body.
Glutamine and arginine are also an important nutrient for boosting immunity.
3) Antioxidant Power
Micronutrients influence antioxidant defense mechanism since some of these trace elements are present in antioxidant enzymes like:
Superoxide Dismutase (copper, zinc, manganese)
Glutathione Peroxidase (selenium)
4) Role of Fatty Acids
It is important to resolve any inflammation in order to minimize damage to tissues and to promote healing. EPA and DHA help to resolve inflammation. They are found in oily fish, lean fish oils, algal oils etc. It is also available in capsule form in the market as a supplement.