What to eat to increase the immune system? The dietician answers

“Especially those who practice sport at an intense level are subjected to particular oxidative stress. A diet rich in antioxidants is therefore fundamental”, explains Dr. Emanuela Russo to Gazzetta Active.

Now at the gates of winter, with the fear this year not only ofinfluenza but also of coronavirus, how can we increase ours immunitary defense? The answer also comes from nutrition. “In theory, our immune system should produce all the defenses that protect us from viruses. For this we must work on the immune system by fighting the oxidative stress. A discourse that mainly concerns those who practice sport at an intense level, but not only ”, explains Dr. Emanuela Russo, dietitian INCO (National Institute for the Treatment of Obesity) of the IRCCS Policlinico San Donato in Milan, to Gazzetta Active.

Why do sportspeople need to pay particular attention to their immune defenses?
“When you train intensely, it causes significant oxidative stress, which can expose you more to viruses.”

What are the nutrients that must not be missing in a diet that stimulates the immune defenses?
“Precisely to counteract oxidative stress we must first of all work on antioxidants. Fundamental is the vitamin C or ascorbic acid. This vitamin works positively at the level of immune defenses because it reduces the production of free radicals. We should take at least one gram a day every day ”.

Where do we find it?
“In citrus fruits, in parsley, in kiwis, in peppers, in rocket, in crucifers, in black currants, in grapes”.

What are other important nutrients?
“Vitamin D, which we know to be contained in a few foods such as milk, cheese, egg yolk, cod liver oil, fatty fish (such as mackerel, sardine, salmon). But above all we have it exposing ourselves to the sun, or through additions. A low vitamin D level also leads to a greater predisposition to certain diseases such as atopic dermatitis or Crohn’s disease: high levels of vitamin D reduce relapses and keep the acute part of these diseases subdued. It is also important the Vitamin E. We find it in all vegetable oils (peanut, corn, sunflower), in dried fruit, in avocado, in oily seeds. And again: the betacarotene, precursor of vitamin A. It is present in cod liver oil, carrots, pumpkin, dried apricots, green cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and leafy vegetables ”.

Read also: Antioxidants: where they are found and why they are essential

In addition to vitamins, are there other nutrients that can help the immune system?
“Zinc and selenium. They are important minerals for their antioxidant activity. We find them in fish, meat, legumes and oats. And also the glutamine and arginine, amino acids that work against oxidative stress. They are present in animal proteins (eggs, meat, fish) and in legumes “.

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18 October 2020 (modified on 18 October 2020 | 19:34)

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