These days nothing is more precious than having a strong immunity against diseases. Everyday we are exposed to viruses, fungi, and bacteria that may cause harm to our body. So our objective should first and foremost be to make our body resilient to these threatening invaders.

The immune system does not exist in one part of the body, it is actually made up of a network of cells, molecules, tissues, and organs working together to shield the body from harmful invaders. Each of these components plays a significant role in how the immune system works and its function, which is crucial to preventing infection.

In their monthly e-Wellness Tour, Herbalife Nutrition Philippines invited US-based nutrition expert and the company’s Vice President of Product Training, Dr. Luigi Gratton. Herbalife Nutrition’s e-Wellness Tour advocates nutrition education by imparting the importance of good nutrition, balanced lifestyle, healthy mind and well-being, and achieving a healthy active lifestyle.

According to Gratton, the human body has an incredibly amazing and complex way of fighting disease. But one thing is for sure, what people eat helps boost the immune system.

“In order for the body’s defense mechanism to work, you need to feed it good fuel. It’s like having a car, and you have to put the right gasoline in the car, so the engine will keep running,” he explained.

So, how exactly does the immune system work?

If the immune system encounters a virus, it mounts an immune response. This is how your body recognizes and defends itself against bacteria, viruses, and substances that appear foreign and harmful.

It is a complex network of cells and proteins that defends the body against infection. The main parts of the immune system are: white blood cells, antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the thymus, and the bone marrow. These are the parts of your immune system that actively fight infection.

Gratton said what we eat, how much we sleep, and how we exercise, among others, all causes chemical reactions that can alter the state of our health. Added to the mix is our microbiome are the microorganisms we depend on to protect us against germs, break down food for energy, produce vital vitamins, and support our immune system.

The largest part of the immune system – approximately 70 percent of it – is located near the intestines, which monitors the intake of food and how the body uses it. This makes it critical for us to consume a balanced diet with the right vitamins, minerals, and nutrients while maintaining a healthy lifestyle. This requires more than just changing the intake of one or two nutrients but involves balancing the entire diet to ensure that there is optimal nutrition intake at a cellular level.

There are four essential groups of nutrients that strengthen the immune system:

  • Protein
  • Vitamins and phytonutrients
  • Probiotics and prebiotics
  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Gratton also pointed out that the human body has a beautiful, incredible, and very elaborate way of fighting disease, and what a person eats can help support this immune system.

“In order for the body’s defense mechanism to work, you need to feed it good fuel. It’s like having a car, and you have to put the right gasoline in the car, so the engine will keep running,” he explained.

Protein helps support lean muscle mass associated with immune health. It also allows the body to make antibodies which help defend against viruses and bacteria.

But when it comes to fat, Gratton said, there are good fats that works for the benefit of the body.

“It turns out fat is essential. Fat is important for your brain. Your brain is about 40-45% fats, and much of your brain is made up of the omega-3 fats, which you get from fish, flax seed, or chia seeds and different plants,” he revealed.

Gratton added that people should lessen their consumption of omega-6 fats, which can be found in processed foods, because they can cause inflammation, heart disease, cancer, dementia, and diabetes.

“We recommend to keep levels of fat below 30% of calories and have a higher proportion of omega-3 fatty acids derived from fish oils,” he added.

When it comes to fiber, Gratton said that a lot of people are not getting a sufficient amount of fiber.

“In the Philippines, the average recommendation is around 30 grams per day. This is in line with global recommendations. Most people are probably getting half that,” he said.

Gratton noted that people nowadays are also not getting enough healthy bacteria in their diet. Good bacteria, he emphasized, is actually good for the immune system that can be found in yogurt and probiotic powder.

The key for sustainable health, he said though, are Vitamins C, A, E, and D minerals such as zinc, selenium, iron, and copper. All these vitamins have substantial researches indicating actual proofs that they support the immune system.

Overall, Gratton said, exercise, stress management, sleep, and socialization are essential factors to having a strong immune system.

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