A strong immune system doesn't guarantee that your body can fight off every cold, sniffle, flu bug, or infectious disease. But it is your best defense!
Immunity is the body's ability to use its highly complex, natural defense with highly specialized cells, organs, and a lymphatic system (a circulatory system separate from blood vessels). Even your first line of defense-your skin, hair, mucous membranes, and tears and saliva-helps protect your body from potentially harmful substances. Together they protect, defend, and clear your body from "attacks" by infectious bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites. A normal immune response ultimately offers protection from other health problems, too, including arthritis, allergies, abnormal cell development, and cancers.
Good nutrition, which includes handling food safely to avoid foodborne illness, is essential to a strong immune response that develops gradually from infancy on. A relatively mild deficiency of even one nutrient can make a difference in your body's ability to fight infection. Among the nutrients well recognized for their many roles in building immunity and immune response: protein, vitamins A, C, and E, and zinc. Others, including vitamin B6, folate, selenium, iron, and copper, as well as prebiotics and probiotics, may influence immune response also.
Research is under way to investigate other nutrition-related issues that may play a role in immunity, including diabetes and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), obesity and overnutrition, and the role of lipids (fats).
To promote your own immunity, follow a healthful eating plan. Guidelines from MyPyramid can supply plenty of immune-boosting nutrients.
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