Nutritional Immunology focuses on the delicate balance between nutrition and our ability to maintain optimal health. When you eat properly, rest well, exercise regularly, and stay positive, your immune system can function more effectively. When you deprive your body of these things, you weaken your immune system and become more susceptible to illness.
Nutritional Immunology is based on the principle that eating healthy foods containing key micronutrients will naturally fortify your immune system, keeping you healthy and helping to defend against sickness. The key micronutrients that Nutritional Immunology emphasizes are antioxidants, phytochemicals, and polysaccharides.
Phytochemicals were originally called phytonutrients and were considered to be any chemicals produced by plants. However, as science has uncovered the capabilities of these nutrients, their definition has been refined to include only chemicals from plants that may affect health, but are not essential nutrients. Phytochemicals have been linked to the reduction of wild cell growth, have shown anti-inflammatory properties, and some have been linked to lowered cholesterol. The best thing about phytochemicals is that they are naturally available in many of the delicious fruits and vegetables you already enjoy.
Polysaccharides are complex carbohydrates that are made up by connecting many monosaccharides, or single sugars. Many polysaccharides have been shown to exhibit properties that moderate the immune system as well as properties that negatively impact tumors. The major impacts polysaccharides have on the immune system include inducing mitosis and activating immune cells as well as Natural Killer cells. Polysaccharides are abundant in many types of mushrooms and have been isolated for use in vaccines and other medicines.
Antioxidants are found naturally in many of the fruits and vegetables that you eat every day. They protect you from oxidants, also known as free radicals, to keep you healthy and happy. Oxidants are elements that are highly reactive due to having unpaired electrons. This unpaired electron tries to pair with electrons in materials throughout your body by forcing reactions, thus damaging cells. Antioxidants protect your body from oxidants in multiple ways, but most commonly by reacting with oxidants before they can force reactions with other cells in your body.