Like everything else in our bodies, the immune system depends on nutrients to function properly. According to a paper by Simin N. Meydani, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School and director of the Nutritional Immunology Laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, and her colleagues, mounting evidence suggests ensuring you get adeqate amounts of certain nutrients may help optimize immune function, including improving resistance to infection. Here is what we know so far:
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects cells, including immune cells, from oxidative damage. Evidence suggests vitamin E supports optimal immune function. While vitamin E supplementation can increase risk for bleeding and stroke, dietary intake is perfectly safe.
Vitamin E is found naturally in foods like plant oils (especially sunflower, safflower, and wheat germ oil), nuts, and seeds. This vitamin is sometimes added to processed foods like breakfast cereals (check Nutrition Facts labels). Green vegetables, such as spinach and broccoli, also provide some vitamin E.
Vitamin D receptors are found in most immune cells. Adequate vitamin D levels may help maintain the body’s defense against infection.
The increasingly trendy trio of kefir, kimchi and kombucha may not be familiar to you, but experts say fermented foods like these can help the home of most of your immune system – your gut.
How and why some (not all) fermented foods work is an unraveling mystery that goes back to hunter-gatherer humans. Today, nutrition scientists say to look beyond “probiotic” and “prebiotic” labels to select the right fermented foods for you.
New research finds the microbes in your gut may play a major role in escalating the chronic brain disease. A raft of recent studies has shown that the microbiome is a factor in the development of obesity, type 2 diabetes, asthma, and cardiovascular disease. Now, we can add Alzheimer’s disease to the list. A new […]
Trillions of bacteria live happily in our gut. The goodies among them help us digest our food and absorb its nutrients. They also help our body make vitamins, absorb minerals, and get rid of toxins. They make our immune system strong. And best of all, they work on our brain cells to help them battle anxiety, stress, and depression. Friendly bugs in our gut make up the army that protects us from disease, including mental illness.
Good bacteria, called probiotics, come to us in fermented foods. Buttermilk, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, sour dough bread, raw-milk cheeses and kefir all harbor the good guys. For many, though, probiotics march forth into our gut in yogurt.
“We believe probiotics might help lower blood pressure by having other positive effects on health, including improving total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol; reducing blood glucose and insulin resistance; and by helping to regulate the hormone system that regulates blood pressure and fluid balance,” Sun said.
Eating probiotics regularly may modestly improve your blood pressure, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (naturally occurring bacteria in the gut) thought to have beneficial effects; common sources are yogurt or dietary supplements.
“The small collection of studies we looked at suggest regular consumption of probiotics can be part of a healthy lifestyle to help reduce high blood pressure, as well as maintain healthy blood pressure levels,” said Jing Sun, Ph.D., lead author and senior lecturer at the Griffith Health Institute and School of Medicine, Griffith University, Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia. “This includes probiotics in yogurt, fermented and sour milk and cheese, and probiotic supplements.”
Analyzing results of nine high-quality studies examining blood pressure and probiotic consumption in 543 adults with normal and elevated blood pressure, researchers found:
Probiotic consumption lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by an average 3.56…