The Immune System: Boosters and Busters
With alert levels going down, workers returning to their offices and schools opening again for face to face classes, we are slowly moving back to our pre-pandemic normalcy. The past two years had us searching the entire internet for ways on how to possibly avoid catching Covid-19 and how to boost our health. This knowledge we’ve gained are not to be left behind as we try move more freely in our new world.
Pandemic or not, we should continue boosting our immune system for our own protection. There are two kinds of food groups we can refer to in terms of our immune system – immune busters and immune boosters. Immune busters are food that may weaken the immune system while immune boosters are those that help strengthen it. Below is a short list of examples of food busters and boosters:
BUSTER: Added Sugar
Food that contain a lot of added sugars such as candies, cakes, cookies and sweetened beverages (soft drinks, sport drinks, energy drinks) can cause significant rise in blood sugar levels. High blood sugar levels is associated with impaired immune function by increasing production of inflammatory proteins, inhibiting response of immune cells and potentially harming the gut making you more susceptible to infection.
BOOSTER: Natural Sugars
Natural sugars are found in whole, unprocessed food such as in fruits and vegetables. Real foods like them do not contain any added sugar and have many vitamins and minerals instead. Most fruits and vegetables contain anti-oxidants that serve as our body’s natural defense system protecting and even repairing cell from damage.
Takeaway: Eat as much real food as possible. Choose your fruits and vegetables as your source of sugar and limit food that gives off nothing but just sugar rush.
BUSTER: Fried food
Fried food particularly those that come from fast food are high in grease and fat which can suppress the immune system. Substance called advanced glycation end products (AGEs) found in fried food has an ability to directly trigger an inflammatory process in the gut. This inflammation may make it easier for foreign bodies to enter the gut and cause imbalance, all of which can negatively impact our immune health.
BOOSTER: Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken Noodle Soup is not just warm remedy from your loving grandmother but is also found to be a cure-all. This is all due to the anti-inflammatory properties of the ingredients used in making the soup. The soup provides hydration and can help open airways to clear congestion; chicken protein helps clear mucus while the other ingredients such as celery, carrots and onions are natural sources of important vitamins and minerals for immunity.
Takeaway: When preparing meals to combat infection or prevent worsening it, have food that are rich in moisture like soups instead of fried ones. Chicken Noodle Soup for one is a good food to eat when fighting off flu.
BUSTER: Too much caffeine
Some studies have shown that coffee and tea have antioxidants and other health properties when taken in small quantities. Taken too much can decrease the ability of our immune system to fight infections as well as remove damaged or abnormal cells. Apart from this, excessive caffeine can also throw off one’s sleeping habits. Sleep is important in keeping the immune system functioning well.
Water is vital in keeping a lot of systems in our body functioning including our immune system. Our immune system is highly dependent on different nutrients in our bloodstream. The transport of these nutrients will not be possible without enough water. Keeping the body hydrated is important for detoxification of pathways, increasing lymphatic draining and making sure we are clearing out any foreign invaders and other waste materials.
Takeaway: Water is still the healthiest drink of all. Keep your caffeinated drinks to a minimum.
BUSTER: Salt & Processed Food
Salty foods like chips, fast food and processed food may impair your body’s immune response, as high salt diets may trigger tissue inflammation and increase the risk of autoimmune diseases. Like fried food, processed food is found to be high in AGEs and saturated fat that may contribute to immune system dysfunction.
BOOSTER: Lean Proteins
Lean proteins play a role in the immune system particularly for healing and recovery. Additionally, lean proteins are good sources of the mineral zinc which keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth.
Takeaway: The less processed and less fatty meat is, the better it is for our health. Try to avoid consuming processed food or adding too much salt in your meals.
Keeping a healthy diet does not necessarily mean giving up your favourite food and snacks. Pizzas and burgers can be easily made healthily at home now without causing the same harm fast food items do. Gardenia offers a variety of easy and healthy recipes of your favourite snacks that you are sure to enjoy. You can try our Whole Wheat Mushroom Burger, a recipe made with Gardenia Whole Wheat Buns with a healthier non-processed plant-based patty as an option.
Whole Wheat Mushroom Burger
- 1 pack Gardenia Whole Wheat Buns
- 1 can Mushroom, Chopped finely
- 1 pc Onions, chopped finely
- 3 pcs Garlic, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp Leeks, chopped finely
- 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp flour
- 1 pc Lettuce
- 1 pc tomato, sliced thinly
- 2 tbsp Mayonnaise
To make the patty:
1.) In a bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well.
2.) Preheat a non-stick pan and add oil.
3) Form a ball and pan fry. Press down the balls gently to form into a patty.
4.) Fry until golden brown on both sides.
1.) Slice the Gardenia Whole wheat bun in half and toast it on a pan.
2.) Spread 1 tbsp of mayonnaise onto one side of the bread and place lettuce then the patty, add the tomatoes and top with other slice of the bread .
3.) Serve and enjoy!
We can’t go back to our old ways before the pandemic happened. As we continue to ease ourselves back into society once more, let’s not forget how much we cared for our bodies when Covid-19 started to hit our country. Let’s exert the same or even more effort in keeping our bodies away from diseases. Bust the worries away by boosting your immune system today!
Kubala, J. (2021). 10 foods that may weaken the immune system. Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-that-weaken-immune-system
Kvist, D. (2020). What to Eat to Support Your Immune System + What to Skip. Retrieved from https://www.weightandwellness.com/resources/articles-and-videos/what-eat-support-your-immune-system-what-skip/
Myles, I. (2014). Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4074336/