Unlock your Body’s Immune System

The immune system, like all organ systems, is constantly renewing its cell and protein components. It renews itself  at a higher rate than most body systems.   

The immune system regenerates itself every day  

It needs to recognize dangerous substances and quickly produce many fighting proteins (soldiers) such as immunoglobulins, support proteins and enzymes. It must rapidly grow an army of lymphocytes, plasma cells, and neutrophils to protect your body.  

More than most body systems, the immune system depends on adequate daily nutrition. It needs:

  • Amino acids for protein synthesis
  • Fat and Carbohydrates for energy production
  • Vitamins and Minerals for their specific roles in cellular growth and protein synthesis

 “It functions as an army that relies on all systems and components”


Include all five food groups on a daily basis:  

Group 1 – Starch (e.g. brown rice, rye/whole wheat bread, unpeeled sweet potato, corn and whole wheat cereals/grains)  

  • Is a source of different types of fibre (probiotic), which ferment in the gut to produce an army of GOOD BACTERIA. This army builds the immune system. Seventy to eighty percent of the body’s good bacteria is in the gut.  
  • Helps the body to preserve muscle mass, when taken in adequate quantities.  
  • Provides energy for muscle and central nervous centre function. For example, the human brain needs around 100g glucose a day.                                                                         

Group 2- Protein  (e.g. red meat, chicken, fish, eggs, cheeses and  legumes) 

  • Is needed for the growth and repair of the body’s proteins, muscle mass, skin and bone.
  • Produces immunoglobulins (soldiers) which kill bad bacteria and viruses.
  • Is a source of essential fatty acids, so named because the body cannot produce them itself.

An example of this would be Omega 3, which we can get from fish. When taken in moderate quantities, Omega-3, is essential for the immune system. 

Group 3- Fat (e.g. olive oil, flaxseed oil, nuts, seeds and avocado)

  • Is a source of essential fatty acids (e.g. Omega 3 & 6) and fat soluble vitamins, which form an essential part of the immune system.
  • Is needed for the body to absorb fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A, E and  D. 

Group 4- Dairy (e.g. milk, cheese and fermented dairy such as yogurt, kefir, buttermilk and maas):

  • Is a source of protein, carbohydrates, fats, fat soluble vitamins and Probiotics (GOOD BACTERIA).

Group 5- Vegetables and Fruit (e.g. a large variety of fresh fruits and vegetables)

  • Provide protective and healing properties, which come from the Anti-oxidants, Beta-carotene, Vitamin C and Vitamin A that they provide.
  • Provide a variety of fibre, which produces an army of GOOD BACTERIA in the gut.
  • Include at least 5 portions/day:
    • 1 fruit portion = 1 tennis ball
    • 1 vegetable portion = ¼ of large plate

Maintain a healthy body weight (composition): 

  • The aim is to maintain optimal muscle mass and lower fat percentage. 
  • Both under- and over-nutrition lead to low muscle mass and, therefore, a compromised immune system. 
  • Examples of under-nutrition include the elderly and malnourished children.
  • Examples of over-nutrition include overweight individuals with diseases such as Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart disease and Kidney disease.

Be as active as possible:

  • Including balanced activities such as stretching, toning and cardio in our daily routines improves the immune system.
  • Physical activity promotes the building, repair and maintenance of muscle mass.  
  • It can form part of healthy stress management.  
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes per day or 1 hour every second day.  
  • Enjoy daily sun exposure (around 20 minutes). It is the body’s best source of Vitamin D.
Alet Basson is a Professional Dietician

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Comments (1)

Magdaleen Kemp

Thank you! This article was short but with good information. Well done

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