Diet, immune function

The strength of the immune system is an important factor in the response to infection. Nutrition plays a vital role in the functioning of the immune system and a poor diet increases the susceptibility to infection and exacerbates autoimmune diseases. Even single nutrient deficiencies can compromise the immune system. Infections also increase the demand for nutrients to help fight infection and repair the damage to tissues.

Diet, immuneAs well as being good for general health, a low protein, high carbohydrate diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, and fiber is beneficial for the immune system. An immune-boosting diet is also low in polyunsaturated vegetable oils and products made from them. These-fats readily form free radicals that damage immune cells. High protein diets are damaging to the immune system as residues of protein metabolism can cause irritation, especially in people prone to allergy and autoimmunity. Milk protein is a common irritant of the immune system. Foods of animal origin, which tend to be high in protein, often contain residues of antibiotics and steroid hormones that can weaken immunity.

The effectiveness of the immune system declines with age and older people are often more susceptible to infection than younger people. In addition, the elderly are at greater risk of low intake of several vitamins and minerals known to influence the immune response. Recent studies have shown that supplementing the elderly with single nutrients or mixtures of vitamins and minerals at levels that exceed the RDAs significantly improves certain components of the immune response.

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