Our immune system has one job: helping our bodies defend and recover from illness.
Unhealthy diets – high on calories from sugars, meats, and dairy products – are usually associated with health problems like obesity and metabolic diseases. But they can also cause a tremendous imbalance in our immune system, thus weakening it.
Regularly eating foods that are not nutritious can break down our immune defence, similar to how invaders can damage a fortress. This, in turn, can also make one more susceptible to new and reoccurring illnesses.
Why Is Immunity Our Best Defence?
I want you to think of your body as a well-designed fortress. Every day, our body silently defends itself against potential harm through its layered system of defence. It can defend and repair when it is challenged.
Our cells are like the army of protectors, each with specific roles to play to help our body defend itself. If unsuccessful, they will repair the body when needed. That is why nutrition is so important. Our cells need nutrients that come in the form of:
Within these three broad categories, we understand the specific importance of protein, healthy essential fats like omega-3, the power of fibre to support our microbiome, and of course, vitamins, minerals and plant-based nutrients that keep our body in optimal condition.
A Real-Life Story on the Impact of Good Nutrition
While deficiency is rare in developed countries, many people in developing countries do not get enough essential vitamins over a long period of time. Back in 1976, an eye doctor was working in Indonesia to reduce the number of children who would go blind because of a deficiency in vitamin A. He noticed that when these individuals were given vitamin A, they also were not dying from common infections in the country like measles or diarrhoea.
This led to studies and the eventual recommendation by the World Health Organization for universal vitamin A supplementation. The World Bank declared vitamin A supplementation one of the most cost-effective of all health interventions.
This teaches us that whether it is vitamin A, D, or C, minerals like magnesium or zinc, or antioxidants from plants or protein – our cells need the right balance of nutrients to do the job they were meant to do.
Consuming a balanced diet with the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients while maintaining a healthy lifestyle is the best way to keep your immune system working fine and doing what it is meant to do: defend your body.