Foods to strengthen the immune system

Spinach are great allies. Learn about other options.

Archyde/ EFE

When temperatures drop, it is necessary to raise the organic defenses to face in the best possible conditions the attacks of respiratory diseases. And some foods can naturally help in these protective functions, according to some nutritionists.

“From the point of view of nutrition, nourishing consists of providing calories, lipids, proteins and other nutrients to the body to maintain proper functioning and health“, highlights Estefanía Ramo, nutritionist and food technologist at the European Medical Institute of the Obesity (Imeo).

He explains that in this way, “nutrient” is the component present in food, assimilated by the body and used to obtain energy, repair tissues and regulate metabolic processes.

“If in addition to providing the above benefits, the nutrient is capable of influencing the immune system, then it could be called ‘immunonutrient’”, this nutritionist tells Efe.

Next, Ramo and Rubén Bravo, dietician expert in nutrition and gastronomy at the IMEO, describe that “some foods accessible to the entire population contain numerous nutrients capable of positively influencing the immune system”, explaining how they benefit us and we can incorporate them into our diet habitual.

Salmon, the protection that comes from the sea

“This fish contains omega 3 fatty acids, which help to strengthen the immune system and also vitamins of group B (B2, B3, B6, B9, B12), which perform regulatory functions of the immune response of our body against possible external attacks of viruses and bacteria ”, Ramo and Bravo explain.

They point out that vitamin A has an important role in regulating the immune system, both innate or nonspecific (the organic defenses with which we are born) and acquired or secondary, that is, the immunity that develops when we are exposed to various substances called antigens , which provoke a defensive response from the body.

“This vitamin is involved in the immune reaction to antigens or ‘humoral response’, consisting of the formation of antibodies, substances that fight infections that threaten our body,” they say.

According to these experts, vitamin D is a powerful modulator of the immune system, interacts with most of the cells of said system and also improves innate immunity by intervening in the formation of macrophages, large immune blood cells, which “engulf ”And destroy pathogens or foreign substances.

“Salmon also contains iron, a mineral whose deficit in the body affects the correct function of organic defenses, mainly by depressing certain aspects and cellular functions, such as the secretion of immune proteins called cytokines”, they add.

They point out that iron deficiency has also been related to a greater sensitivity to substances capable of producing oxidative stress (a process that causes cellular damage), as well as to a higher incidence of gastrointestinal and respiratory diseases.

Ramo and Bravo recommend eating salmon “at dinner, grilled, baked, grilled accompanied by vegetables (green leafy, such as spinach) or in the form of a ‘tartar’ with avocado.”

Almonds, sweet allies of immunity

“Almonds are rich in minerals such as copper, which can contribute to the antimicrobial response of macrophages; and selenium, essential for a correct response, both in the innate and acquired immune systems ”, according to Ramo and Bravo.

They indicate that, in addition to iron, this nut contains zinc, a mineral that has a multitude of effects on many types of immune cells, and has a direct effect on the number and function of macrophages.

IMEO experts recommend incorporating them into the diet “as an ingredient in salads or as an alternative to mid-morning meals or a snack, being the best way to consume them raw or lightly toasted”.

Kefir, milk barrier against germs

This fermented milk rich in bacteria and probiotic yeasts, so called because they contain live microorganisms that provide benefits for the body, is rich in vitamins D and A, which promote immune activity through various mechanisms.

A specific probiotic strain of kefir, ‘Lactobacillus Kefiri’, helps the body defend itself against harmful bacteria such as’ salmonella ‘and’ E. Coli ‘. Photo: IMEO

Ramo and Bravo in particular highlight a probiotic strain that is specific to kefir and is called ‘Lactobacillus Kefiri’, which helps the body defend itself against harmful bacteria such as’ salmonella ‘and’ E. Coli ‘.

“This bacterial strain, along with others, helps modulate the immune system and inhibits the growth of harmful bacteria,” they highlight.

Kefir also contains another powerful compound found only in this probiotic drink, an insoluble polysaccharide called ‘kefiran’, which has been shown to have antimicrobial properties to, for example, fight infection due to the ‘candida’ fungus, according to these experts.

“The best way to include kefir in the weekly diet is in breakfast, ‘mid-morning’ meals and snacks, alone or with fruit,” they recommend.

Spinach, “green” force against infection

Spinach are green leafy vegetables, rich in copper, iron and zinc. They are great allies of our immune system, according to Imeo nutritionists, who advise eating them as a garnish at lunch and dinner, accompanying some lean meat or oily fish, raw or as a complement to salads, to make the most of their nutritional potential.

These experts emphasize that the popularly called “Popeye’s vegetable” contains “abundant nutrients, while providing few calories. It can be an alternative to salad lettuce and our recommendation is to include it regularly in a varied and healthy diet”.

Childhood obesity

Ultimas noticias

A sedentary lifestyle, video games and electronic devices, as well as junk food and sweets spread the obesity pandemic, which is ravaging global health, to children. Some simple measures, such as playing games that involve physical activity and leading by example, could help us keep our children from being overweight.  

Andrea Marqués, nutritionist at the European Medical Institute for Obesity (IMEO), explains how.

• Participation at the table. A good start is to create responsibility in the child for what she/he eats. The little one will love being a part of the list he makes to prepare the menu of the week.

• Balanced breakfast. Prioritize slow-absorbing foods, such as apple, fig, peach or plum, dairy, legumes and vegetables, eggs, fatty meats, and nuts. This is key to keeping him active at school.

• Always active. Walking the dog, helping with shopping, playing in the park or riding a bicycle are activities that gain sedentary lifestyle, but these must be complemented by sports discipline; Take advantage of the respective football and baseball seasons to encourage them to play frequently, and under your supervision or that of an adult.

• Permanent hydration. To complete the virtuous circle, it is key to keep the child hydrated, as well as getting them to sleep between 9 and 10 hours a day for cell repair.

• Food is not a judge. Never use food as a reward or punishment, because the child could associate sweets as good foods and fruits or vegetables as bad foods.


Nutritionist Andrea suggests the following menu for infants:

Five meals a day. Distributed in the main three (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and 2 secondary (mid-morning and snack).

Five daily servings of fruits and vegetables, including vegetables

Four daily servings of carbohydrates. Cereals, bread, pasta, rice, legumes or potatoes, taken at all meals except dinner.

Three daily servings of protein and dairy. Fish, eggs, meats and dairy, rich in calcium and vitamin D that participate in the formation of bone structures during growth.

Two daily servings of healthy fats. Nuts and olive oil.

A weekly ration. The consumption of pastries, sweets, soft drinks and chips (snacks), should be limited to one to two servings per week, due to its addictive power and high doses of sugar.

THE MEMORY OF THE PALATE “From 2 to 12 years old, children learn the eating habits that will influence them, consciously and unconsciously, the rest of their lives, establishing complex neural bridges that will make them deepen their tastes towards one or the other. foods that, from adolescence, will be more difficult to change ”.