If you get sick often, the source of the problem could be an inadequate diet. Having a strong immune system requires a well-balanced diet containing proper amounts of all essential nutrients - including protein.
The immune system relies on protein
Your food is not going to wondrously repel disease like flu, but a balanced diet and certain nutrients in particular take the lead in protecting your body from trillions of bacteria, viruses, and other germs. Protein is the main one of them.
The reason? Very Simple. The antibodies that help fight diseases, like immunoglobulins, are actually made of protein.
Since most cells in your immune system are made up of proteins and that they rely on new protein synthesis to function and multiply, it's no surprise that getting too little protein in your diet can cripple your immune system.
Amino acids to power immunity
Amino acids found in protein are the building blocks of all body cells – including the cells that govern and regulate the immune system. The body uses amino acids acquired from your dietary proteins to build new proteins within your body - including proteins that help make up your immune system. If you don’t consume enough protein or lack in a specific amino acid, you will manufacture fewer white blood cells to combat antigens.
Let’s look at an example. immunoglobulins, also labeled antibodies, are proteins that travel in your blood network and key components of a robust immune system. Proteins are also part of antibodies, interferon and complement proteins that support immune system cells or attack viruses, bacteria or other foreign substances in your body.
When your body is under high physical stress, it needs sufficient protein more than ever. Your immune cells consist of proteins and you need to give them an abundance in order to optimize your capacity to resist and chase away intruders.
Protein-rich foods raise immunity levels
Here is another reason to increase your protein intake: many protein-rich foods also contain other immune-boosting nutrients. Lean cuts of pork and beef, as well as protein from soy, beans and seafood (crab and oysters in particular), contain zinc. Zinc is a mineral that further promotes the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Even mild zinc deficiencies can lower your immune barriers and leave you more susceptible to infections.
As a mum, you are not only trying to stay healthy for yourself, but you ultimately want to do what’s best for your baby. How well you eat during and after pregnancy will directly impact your health and that of your baby.
Adequate intake of protein can usually be attained by consuming whole food protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs, dairy products, tofu, beans, nuts and seeds. While most women can usually get enough protein in their regular diet to support lactation, some may need a little extra help.
Nuts such as walnut, cashew and almonds are also good sources of protein, as well as magnesium, both of which have added benefit towards a healthy immune system.
Whey protein and glutathione
But that’s not all... There is still something extra that sets whey protein in a different class from other proteins in terms of improved immunity. According to the United States Dairy Export Council, glutathione is at the center of the antioxidant defense system which dictates immune function. It happens that whey protein encourages the production of glutathione in certain tissues. “When compared to other protein sources, whey protein concentrate and isolate are unique in their ability to optimize a number of key aspects of immune function,” claims the US Dairy Export Council. Whey protein is known to have immunomodulating effects.
Pea protein improves vitamin D bioavailability
New research suggests vitamin D could boost immune response. Very low levels of vitamin D may be linked to an increase in seasonal colds and flu. Many of us are deficient in vitamin D, which we can get from the sun and very few foods.
Recent research in the food industry has shown that pea protein is an effective emulsifier that may enhance vitamin D bioavailability and improve vitamin deficiency in certain populations. Golden pea protein powder is the perfect addition to your morning or post-workout smoothie if you’re looking to keep the bugs away!