Over the coming weeks we will be posting about information the nutrients that help support the immune system, digestive integrity and managing inflammation. We will also look at lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress which impact on your general health as well as your immunity and give you tips and recipes for cooking in these difficult times. Our immune system is sophisticated and extremely complex.
There is evidence that diet and lifestyle have a role to play in supporting immunity. Ideally, we want our immune system to defend us against attack whilst protecting our own cells. An overactive immune system which leads to too much inflammation can also lead to problems.There are three main levels of our immune system:
- Physical barriers to stop infection entering our body. This includes skin (infections can enter through cuts and wounds), but also through our airways and digestive tract. The airways are lined with a layer of adhesive mucous that can entrap invaders and expel them through coughing and sneezing. The defence of the intestine includes maintaining the integrity of the gut lining. This centres largely on the presence of the complex microbiome (a community of bacteria), which protect against pathogens.
- Protective substances such as saliva, tears, stomach acid or foods that you eat that offer support and neutralise bugs.
- Immune cells and antibodies. This includes white blood cells, hormone and immune proteins such as interferon. The white blood cells include those that are general and aim to engulf and destroy invaders, more specialised cells that make antibodies against specific illnesses and t cells that mop up rogue cells.
Our next post will look at the foods which can support you.