The immune system is body’s defence against bacteria, viruses and other foreign organisms. It is a very complex system which has to function properly to protect us from the harmful bacteria and other organisms in our environment that may infect body.

What is the relationship between immune system and food?

Your genetic make up influences your immune system and so do the environmental factors. From the scientific studies it is increasingly clear that you can manipulate your immune system by what you eat. Foods, containing vitamins, minerals and other unique compounds, can stimulate immune functioning, increase your resistance to various bacterial and viral infections, as well as cancerous growths which flourish or die according to the strength and operation of immune mechanisms.

How food can influence your immune system?

What you eat can strongly influence the performance of white blood cells, the frontline soldiers against infection and cancer. The B-cells produce critical antibodies which rush to destroy bacteria, virus and tumor cells. Many research documents of various foods and food components help to control the amount of white blood cells and their strength.

The quality of food must be good to prevent infections. Raw or lightly cooked eggs, shellfish or soft cheese may contain bacteria. Therefore, we must be always careful with all the food because the danger of infection may be everywhere.

Is vegetarian immune system better than others?

Fruits and vegetables have always a good influence on immune system because there are numerous substances, including vitamin C and beta-carotene and vegetarians have more strong immune defences. Vegetarians have more beta-carotene in blood than meat eaters and it has a documented influence on immune system.

Eat enough spinach, carrots and other fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene. Pulses, beans, nuts and seeds are also very important.

What is the role of our normal yoghurt here?

Eat some yoghurt every day and you do something good for your body and it is a known fighter against disease. Approximately eating 200 gram yoghurt daily can prevent cold and diarrhea in adults and elders. Yoghurt in animals and human beings stimulates the activity of natural killer cells which destroy tumor cells. The heated and frozen yoghurts, in which the bacterial culture is often killed, could strengthen our immune system.

What is shiitake mushroom?

Shiitake is a big, brown and fleshy mushroom of Asian origin. It contains an antiviral substance called lentinan which exhibits strong immunostimulating activity. It is used in Chinese traditional medicine and it can modify cells to resist the spreading of lung cancer cells. Thus shiitake mushroom may help immune system to fight as well as to prevent cancer.

Is garlic a weapon against microbes?

Garlic is a fighter of bacteria, virus and cancer cells and it stimulates the potencies of T-lymphocytes and macrophages, the main cells in immune functions. Garlic extract helps macrophages to generate more free radicals to kill microbes and tumor cells. It is a cheaper weapon to strengthen our immune system.

Zinc, is it really an immune element?

Your immune system cannot function properly if you fail to eat food rich in zinc. It helps to strengthen the immune sytem, including the production of antibodies, T-cells and other white blood cell activities.

What about drinking, I mean water or soft drinks?

Drinking plenty of fluid can help to prevent infection; it keeps your mouth moist and healthy and flushes out kidneys and bladder which prevents the build-up of waste in our body where the bacteria can grow. Three to four liter of fluid does good to our body but at least 70% must be drinking water.

Fat and immune system, what is the correct way?

Reducing fat in the diet is important not only for weight control but also seems to influence the function of our immune system. Diets that are high in fat seem to depress the immune response and thus increase the risk of infections. Reducing fat content in the diet can decrease the risk of infections. Moreover, it is not the amount of fat but also the origin of fat is important. Food rich in monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fatty acids are fatty fish, nuts soya or linseed oil.

Immune system and alcohol, where are we now?

Drinking little alcohol, especially wine, can boost your resistance to some infections and the reason may be, it can destroy or disable disease-producing organisms. Wine can kill any number of bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus which are the common cause of food poisoning. Wine may be better because of grape skin and fermentation but other alcoholic beverages in small amount can destroy unwanted bacteria. Consuming contaminated food and alcohol at the same time may lessen the chance of becoming sick. For example, eating raw oysters may not be safe even with alcohol and avoidance is the best solution.

What about probiotic supplements?

These may be good. These come under food supplements; so no clinical studies and side effects. Nobody knows how the standardisation is done. We have to wait for further research.

What is the relationship between infections and kisses?

Millions of bacteria are transferred from one mouth to the other and there may be many harmful bacteria causing infections.

Do not kiss a child in the lips because the risk of infection is great.