From early 1970, existence of close relationship between the nutritional status and capabilities of immune response to pathogens has been accepted. Early work has shown that a protein-energy malnutrition, significantly affected the immune response, thereby increasing the risk of infection and the mortality rate of patients suffering from chronic diseases, cancer, influenza, tuberculosis, etc. More recently, it also appeared that obesity interfered with weak immune system. That is, people who have weakened immune system tend to gain weight more easily.
The immune system is a collection of mechanisms within an organism that makes it possible to identify and kill pathogens and tumor cells. It acts as a defense mechanism against pathogens (can cause diseases), such as virus, bacteria, parasites, cancer cells, some poisonous particles. Without the immune system, the body cannot defend itself against aggression.
Immunity and supplements
Many studies have confirmed that certain vitamins and supplements (immune supplements) are capable not only of boosting the immune system, but of also fighting against its aging.
Malnutrition and Immune Function – It has long been known that malnourished people have a higher risk of contracting infectious diseases because of an inadequate immune response. A malnourished immune system not only cannot protect your body, but also can attacks harmless substances. It is a vicious circle. The consequences of certain diseases, including HIV, cancer and tuberculosis, are all more pejorative when your immune system is weak. A lack of protein has a negative effect on the various components of the immune system.
Other nutrients and immunity – Some fatty acids (omega 3 for instance) normally found in fish oils have an effect on immune function, particularly EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), reduce inflammation by modulating the production of cytokines by T cells. The acid alpha-lipoic, an antioxidant much studied in HIV infection seems to be able to regenerate vitamins C and E, increasing their antioxidant effect. Amino acids, particularly arginine and glutamine, play an important role in immunity. The glutamine is involved in the maintenance of the intestinal wall, and thereby prevents the migration of infectious organisms in the blood stream.
Vitamins and Immunity – various studies have highlighted among people living with HIV /AIDS blood low concentrations of certain vitamins, especially vitamins A, B6, B12, C, E and folate.
Vitamin A – The deficit in vitamin A deteriorating function of epithelial cells, essential in maintaining the structure of tissues. On this same vitamin A depend the production of B cells and T.
B Complex – It has been demonstrated that vitamin B12 improves the rate of T cells and NK cell activity in patients with a deficiency of this vitamin. Vitamin B12 and folate are both involved in the production of genetic material. The deficiency in vitamin B6 may occur following the administration of certain drugs such as isonicotinyl hydrazine (for tuberculosis). It seems to affect the function of T cells and the ability of NK cells to kill infectious agents among HIV-positive patients. The deficiency in vitamin B6 has also been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.
Vitamin C – Deficiency of vitamin C impairs phagocyte function and cellular immunity (Chandra, 1986). This includes inhibition of neutrophil mobility, which, in turn, inhibits the formation of inflammatory reactions. Studies of mega dose vitamin C supplementation in healthy individuals have found the supplement to bolster both cellular and humoral immunity
Vitamin E – Vitamin E plays a key role as antioxidant in cell membranes. This earned him to be regarded as a nutrient “anti-viral. The combined intake of vitamins A and E in animals has shown an improvement of the function of neutrophils to destroy infectious agents.
The numerous and complex relationships between food, nutrients and specific immune system are an interesting field of study in the field of biomedical research. People with a good diet will be better prepared immunologically to fight against many modern diseases such as cancer, AIDS and tuberculosis. Several micro-nutrients have significant roles in the functions of the immune system. It is clear that maintaining a good nutritional status and adequate reserve of micronutrients in the body allows an effective immune response to opportunistic infections. However, it is very difficult to intake all those essential nutrients in a regular diet.
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