Fortifying the body from attacks
Immunity. Its level explains why some people get easily infected whereas others are able to successfully ward off the same infections. Simply put, some people have better immunity than others. Dr Michael Mung’oma of Mount Kenya University (MKU) says nutrition has a direct impact on the immune system. He explains: “A growing body of evidence suggests that both nutritive and non-nutritive food components are related in their functions to maintain or improve immune function.”
Dr Mung’oma is the dean of MKU’s School of Pharmacy. He names several vitamins and minerals as key immunity boosters.
He asserts that there is clinical benefit of taking Vitamin D and green tea in addressing autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Vitamin D, vitamin E, zinc, and probiotics, are known for reduction of infection.
However, says Mung’oma, not many studies about these factors are conclusive and require more standardised research designs as well as better characterised populations. He adds that it is also difficult to determine exactly how much of these
nutrients one requires in different times of growth or exposure to infection. Dr Mung’oma says deficiency of certain minerals or vitamins can lead to weakened immunity.
Vitamin C deficiency results in impaired immunity and higher susceptibility to infections. Including Vitamin C in your diet has been reported to prevent and treat respiratory and systemic infections. However, it cannot be used as a substitute to medicines. Neither is it an excuse not to take other preventive measures. Dr Mung’oma gives the example of the challenge posed by Covid-19, a new disease that causes pneumonia-like symptoms.
Pneumonia can kill patients if poorly managed and especially in those with a compromised immune system. “Studies have shown that the immune function may be improved by restoring deficient micronutrients to recommended levels which would increase resistance to infection and support quicker recovery when infected,” says Dr Mung’oma.