Fruit is the ultimate immune system booster, unlike the dietary choices of processed foods and animal products!
The immune system is a unified system of functions, including the white blood cells, the antibodies, the complement system, the lymphatic system, the spleen, the bone marrow, and the thymus (1). These form a mysterious magical shield that the body can use to defend itself from viruses, illness, disease, and toxins.
If you search for foods that boost the immune system through the internet, social media, and YouTube, every list will have a substantial amount of fruit. Why is this?
The immune system is constantly working to block out illness, toxins, and free radicals to allow only the valuable nutrients to be digested. Fruit is full of beneficial nutrients and is cleansing, so it can only be helpful to the body’s immune system.
The immune system relies on the digestive system to dispose of these unwanted pathogens and toxins. There are several ways that these unwanted pathogens and toxins are removed. They are either removed due to the lining of the digestive tract which has antibodies, due to the acidity in the stomach, or due to the frequent release that happens via the bowels and the urinary tract (1). These defenses are only improved by the detox effect of fruit.
Plus, fruit has a range of vitamins and minerals. Most fruit has an abundant amount of vitamin C and some vitamin A (2). Vitamin A helps to build white blood cells, supports the role of the skin, and helps the organs function (3). Vitamin A helps the elimination process and helps the body to form an outer defence system. Meanwhile, vitamin C also helps the body form the white blood cells that fight pathogens, as well as protecting the respiratory tract (3). Vitamin C is bound to knock that cold and flu on the head when it is consumed at the source! This is in fruit in large amounts!
Minerals that help immune function include zinc, magnesium,and selenium (4). Many assume that these are not acquired from fruit. Think again! “High zinc fruits include avocados, blackberries, pomegranates, raspberries, guavas, cantaloupes, apricots, peaches, kiwifruit, and blueberries” (5). Thus, meat or high protein foods are not essential for zinc intake. Meanwhile, magnesium is also in many fruits. “Fruits high in magnesium include dried figs, avocados, guavas, bananas, kiwi fruit, papayas, blackberries, raspberries, cantaloupes, and grapefruit.” (6). Once again, no animal products are necessary! Lastly, selenium is abundant in many fruits. Fruits include bananas, avocadoes, blackberries, blueberries, oranges, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, lemon and melon all contain some selenium in varying amounts (7). Selenium has a main role of providing antioxidant action. Antioxidants only support the immune system, as their role is like that of the immune system. They help to fight free radicals and cleanse out toxins!
“A major avenue of research over the last decade has been to determine how the immune system benefits from certain diets, including the intake of dietary antioxidants… Much of the evidence is focused on polyphenols, the abundant plant derived phytochemicals that include anthocyanins, the pigments responsible for the vibrant red, blue and purple colors of berries and other colorful fruits.” (8)
Antioxidants may be what is really needed to boot that unwelcome illness out of your body!
A stark contrast is the effects of processed foods and animal-based foods on the immune system. Firstly, processed foods have no benefits to the immune system and only cause inflammation especially due to food additives. “Things like synthetic trans fats, sugar, and preservatives increase inflammation in our diet…our immune system is not prepared” (9). Due to the immune system attempting to battle these excess toxins, there is excess inflammation. One reason for this is that processed food leads to an increase in immune cells from ‘bone marrow progenitors’” (10). Bone marrow is a key player in the immune system, the immune system becomes overworked, and inflammation is the immune response to excess toxins.
In fact, as well as the immune system becoming overwhelmed leading to inflammation, processed food may even permanently weaken the immune system due to the consumption of processed foods.
“Of potentially greatest concern, our poor dietary behaviours are encoded into both our DNA scaffolding and gut microbiome, and thus these harmful immune modifications are passed to our offspring” (11, 12).
Thus, food habits can be passed through generations due to permanently distorting the DNA of the immune system and the digestive system.
Not only processed food habits, but also animal products, will weaken the immune system and lead to autoimmune diseases. One effect on the immune system from animal products is that they are high in saturated fat which is detrimental to the blood vessels and the digestive system. A report has found that the gut has healthy bacteria which are harmed by saturated fat (13, 14). As well as damage to the digestive system, there is a release of bacterial endotoxins which damages the blood vessels from just one meal with animal products (15). This damage does not occur from the consumption of fruit which has a cleansing effect, and the consumption of fruit combined with fasting can help to release toxic fat stores.
The acidic toxicity of animal products must weaken the immune system as these foods significantly increase your chances of acquiring autoimmune diseases. The two main ways that animal products are likely to lead to autoimmune diseases are leaky gut and molecular mimicry. Leaky gut is a result of the bacteria/toxins from animal foods and the damage to the gut from saturated fat.
“A 2017 study published in the Frontiers of Immunology found that “leaky gut” — when the intestinal epithelial lining loses integrity and allows the passage of bacteria and toxins into the blood — can “trigger the initiation and development of autoimmune disease.” (16, 14).
This explains an effect of saturated fat on your body and the immune system. A video that explains this well is here: – https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=229&v=p_uy4kfQDkA&feature=emb_title
On the other hand, the molecular mimicry involves our body’s reaction to the proteins in the animal products. Due the similar proteins in animal products to the proteins in our own body, the immune system enters ‘attack’ mode against the foreign animal proteins and, also, our own bodies. This process is explained in more detail here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=227&v=FNmIBB2UG_M&feature=emb_logo
So, fruits are infinitely magical to the immune system, whilst processed foods with additives and animal products shatter the immune system with a constant onslaught of toxic substances that the body struggles to manage.
(1) Betterhealth.vic.gov.au. 2017. Immune System. [online] Available at: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/immune-system [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(2) Lenntech.com. 2020. Vitamin Content Of Fruit And Vegetables. [online] Available at: https://www.lenntech.com/fruit-vegetable-vitamin-content.htm [Accessed 3 April 2020]
(3) Agrawal, M., 2014. Top 10 Vitamins and Minerals For Boosting Immunity. [online] InlifeHealthCare. Available at: https://www.inlifehealthcare.com/2014/10/03/vitamins-minerals-boost-immune-system/ [Accessed 3 April 2020]
(4) Approach Wellness. 2019. List Of Minerals For Immune System Health. [online] Available at: https://www.approachwellness.com/list-of-minerals.html [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(5) Whitbread, D. 2019. Top 10 Fruits Highest in Zinc. [online] myfooddata. Available at: https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-zinc-fruits.php [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(6) Whitbead, D. 2019. Top 10 Fruits Highest in Magnesium. [online] myfooddata. Available at: https://www.myfooddata.com/articles/high-magnesium-fruits.php [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(7) Ann, M., 2018. Fruits With Selenium. [online] Healthyeating.sfgate.com. Available at: https://healthyeating.sfgate.com/fruits-selenium-5382.html [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(8) Rounds, D., 2020. The Immune System, Antioxidants And Ariona Berries – Drink Tohi. [online] Drink Tohi. Available at: https://drinktohi.com/the-immune-system-antioxidants-and-aronia-berries/ [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(9) Monico, L. 2020. How Processed Junk Food Hurts The Immune System. [online] Lifehealthbestself.com. Available at: https://lifehealthbestself.com/how-processed-junk-food-hurts-the-immune-system/ [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(10) Dale, A., 2018. This Is Why You Should Avoid Eating Too Much Junk Food. [online] Labiotech.eu. Available at: https://www.labiotech.eu/medical/junk-food-immune-system/ [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(11) Myles, I., 2014. Fast food fever: reviewing the impacts of the Western diet on immunity. Nutrition Journal [online] 13 (61), pp. 1-17. Available at: http://www.nutritionj.com/content/pdf/1475-2891-13-61.pdf [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(12) Abrams, A., 2014. Fast Food May Hurt Your Immune System, And Could Hurt Your Kids, Too. [online] Time. Available at: https://time.com/2941167/fast-food-may-hurt-immune-system/ [Accessed 3 April 2020].
○ Hopkins, A., 2020. Is Processed Food Sabotaging Your Client’s Immune System? [online] Blog | That Clean Life. Available at: https://blog.thatcleanlife.com/is-junk-food-sabotaging-your-immune-system/ [Accessed 3 April 2020].
○ Learning, e. 2016. Processed Foods Destroy Immune System, Scientists Confirmed. [online] CancerBuster. Available at: https://cancerbuster.net/2016/01/04/processed-foods-destroy-immune-system-scientists-confirmed/ [Accessed 3 April 2020]
○ Metrocebu.news. 2016. Processed Foods Weaken Immune System, Lead To Diseases – Researchers. [online] Available at: https://metrocebu.news/2016/01/processed-foods-weaken-immune-system-lead-to-diseases-researchers/ [Accessed 3 April 2020].
(13) Devkota, S., Wang, Y., Much, M., Leone, V., Felner-Peach, H., Nadimpalli, A., Antonopoulos, D., Jabri, B. and Chang, E., 2012. Dietary fat-induced taurocholic acid production promotes pathobiont and colitis in IL-10-/-mice. Natue, [online] 487(7405), pp. 104-108. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3393783/ [Accessed 4 April 2020].
(14) Sentenac, H., 2018. 6 Foods To Eat And 3 To Avoid To Help Your Body Fight Autoimmune Disease And Excessive Inflammation. [online] Food Revolution Network. Available at: https://foodrevolution.org/blog/autoimmune-disease-diet/ [Accessed 4 April 2020].
(15) Carney, L., 2013. Why Do Animal Products Cause Inflammation?. [online] Drcarney.com. Available at: https://www.drcarney.com/blog/entry/why-do-animal-products-cause-inflammation [Accessed 4 April 2020].
(16) Mu, Q., Kirby, J., Reilly, C. and Luo, X., 2020. Leaky Gut As a Danger Signal for Autoimmune Diseases. Front Immunol., [online] 8, p.598. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440529/ [Accessed 4 April 2020].
○ Cusick, M., Libbey, J. and Fujinami, R., 2012. Molecular Mimicry as a Mechanism of Autoimmune Disease. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol., [online] 42 (1), pp. 102-111. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3266166/ [Accessed 4 April 2020].
○ Respectful Living. 2018. Molecular Mimicry – How Eating Animal Based Products Causes Autoimmune Disease. [online] Available at: https://www.arespectfullife.com/2018/04/22/molecular-mimicry-how-eating-animal-based-products-causes-autoimmune-disease/ [Accessed 4 April 2020].