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The immune system is the body’s natural defense system that stands guard and protects your body from foreign bodies such as pathogens, free radicals, and oxidants. The immune system generates a reactionary response, called inflammation, whenever it detects a foreign body or ‘invader’ in your body.
This reactionary or ‘inflammatory’ response allows immune cells to fight off the foreign particles before they disrupt the metabolic processes in the body. Acute inflammation is beneficial as it prepares and protects your body, and thus, helps to preserve health.
Chronic inflammation, however, is risky as it can occur for years without a potential trigger as well, eliciting pain, stress, and breakdown of body tissues. At times, the body mistakes its own healthy cells for foreign cells, leading to autoimmune inflammatory diseases. Certain systemic diseases, such as diabetes, heart diseases, and arthritis, are caused by a cascade of chronic inflammatory processes.
In order to build immunity, nutritionists recommend incorporating superfoods that are naturally stocked with antioxidants as discussed below.
Blueberries are perhaps one of the most nutritious and tasteful fruits that help to combat inflammation naturally. Blueberries are rich in antioxidants such as polyphenols, which serve as a natural aid for fighting free radicals in the body.
Anthocyanin, a polyphenol, is a pigment that gives berries their characteristic blue, black, purple, or red color. Apart from giving color to berries, anthocyanins also help to fight potentially harmful environmental triggers that might possibly impose stress and serve as a threat to the body.
Stresses can be either biotic, such as those caused by infectious pathogens, or abiotic, such as temperature extremes. Wild blueberries are known to possess far greater quantities of anthocyanins and thus, serve as the perfect aid to an anti-inflammatory or weight-loss dietary regimen.
Green, Leafy Vegetables
Green, leafy vegetables might be the bane of our existence, but in fact, yield antioxidants, vitamins, and elements that are nutritious for day-to-day functioning. Vitamin C, a potent antioxidant that is necessary for building and maintaining collagen in the body, is readily found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, bok choy, cauliflower, and cabbage.
Despite being the most notorious vegetable disliked by many, broccoli acts as the perfect supplement to your salads. Preferred raw, broccoli consists of a phytochemical called sulforaphane that inhibits enzymes responsible for causing inflammation in arthritis. Sulforaphane also fights against free radicals which might predispose to cancer, such as prostate or colon cancer.
Similar to broccoli, kale is also rich in Vitamin C as well as fat-soluble vitamins such as A and K. Kale, however, is also a readily available nutritious entity with calcium, which helps to strengthen brittle bones in osteoporosis and thus, fight inflammation as well.
Green vegetables provide an added source of magnesium and manganese that helps to protect both liver function and heart health. Magnesium has been reportedly accounted for decreasing mortality caused by liver diseases such as alcoholic liver diseases, liver cancer, and hepatitis.
Turmeric, the native Indian spice, is a popular condiment in South Asian foods and is almost never left out in curries. Known for its significant yellowish-golden color, turmeric has been adapted as the infamous concoction called Golden Milk or Turmeric Latte in the west.
Present in highly significant amounts, curcumin is the chief pigment that allows us to celebrate turmeric for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Turmeric helps to reduce inflammation, particularly in autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
RA is characteristically known for eliciting high levels of pain and reduced mobility due to joint inflammation in susceptible patients. Curcumin helps to reduce levels of inflammatory markers, such as C-Reactive Protein, which is implicated in acute inflammation, as well as a majority of chronic inflammatory diseases.
Turmeric, however, is absorbed in the body in relatively minimal amounts. To increase its absorption, it is recommended to either mix it with piperine (rich in black pepper) or fatty foods such as avocado to increase its content in the body via absorption. Turmeric is also known to aid in digestion as well as in lowering blood glucose and blood pressure levels naturally.
Fatty fish such as salmon, herrings, and mackerel, are high in polyunsaturated fats or long-chain omega-3 fatty acids, namely docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). Omega-3 fatty acids are protective against heart diseases and thus, help to fight inflammation implicated in coronary and peripheral artery diseases.
As the body makes omega-3 fatty acids in relatively smaller amounts as required, it is necessary to consume fatty foods rich in EPA and DHA. Fish oil supplements rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been popularized in the States for the last 10 years as important components of the diet. Fish oil rich in EPA is usually beneficial for fighting pain and inflammation in autoimmune diseases, whereas DHA is known to help improve mental health and cognitive functioning.
Many nuts, such as almonds, pecans, and hazelnuts, are rich in monounsaturated fats which serve as a healthier alternative to trans-and-saturated fats. Fruits such as avocados, and seeds such as pumpkin seeds, are also rich in monounsaturated fats, which promote better heart health and fight against free radicals implicated in cancer and heart diseases.
The Final Verdict
It is true that medications such as steroids and immunosuppressants can help relieve chronic inflammation in your body. But, in order to help reduce the risk of developing chronic inflammation in your body, it is vital to boost your immune system with naturally existing anti-inflammatory superfoods for more effective results.
At Manhattan Medical Arts, we recommend consulting your primary care physician before trying anti-inflammatory supplements on the market. It is true that there are quite a lot of supplements rich in vitamins and fish oil that have been approved by the FDA, and thus, recommended for daily use but, your primary care physician or nutritionist can help advise the recommended daily amount (RDA) for better, effective, and safe results.
Book an appointment with our leading primary care physician at MMA, and learn how you can improve your health naturally.