According to various sources the simple definition of the Immune system is a complex network of organs, white blood cells, chemicals and proteins that defend the body against infection, while protecting the body’s own cells. The immune system keeps a record of every germ it has ever defeated so it can recognise and destroy the microbe quickly if it enters the body again. The immune system includes white blood cells and organs and tissues of the lymph system, such as the thymus, spleen, tonsils, lymph nodes, lymph vessels, and bone marrow. This is why it is important for anyone living with Sickle cell to look after their immune system and build it up even though your immune system also helps your body heal from infections and injuries.
When your immune system is working properly, it is telling the difference between cells that are yours and those that don’t belong in your body. It activates and mobilises to kill germs that may harm you. It ends an attack once the threat is gone. It learns about germs after you have had contact with them and develops antibodies against them. And it sends out antibodies to destroy germs that try to enter your body in the future. But sometimes, your immune system may be too weak to fight of germs.
Patients living with Sickle cell disease are known to have an altered immune system; in fact SCD is also known as an immunocompromised condition. With less healthy red blood cells circulating in the body, you can become chronologically anaemic. The sickled cells also damage the spleen. Immune abnormalities in SCD have historically been attributed largely to splenic dysfunction, caused by auto infarction in early childhood. As a result, anyone living with SCD will have a weakened immune system and at greater risk of infections, which could then trigger a crisis. Due to all this, patients with SCD may have a reduced immune response to certain vaccinations.
The gut is your largest immune organ, with a surface average equivalent to that of a small studio apartment. At the largest and most dynamic immunological environment within your body, the gut immune system is key to maintaining a healthy gut as well as overall health. Consuming adequate amounts of several vitamins and minerals including vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc is important for proper immune function. Clinical deficiencies of these nutrients weaken the immune system and can increase susceptibility to infections.
You can find vitamin A in food and fruits such as, yellow, red vegetables, tomato products, green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, liver, fish, eggs, dairy products, and red peppers. Yellow fruits such as maize, mangoes, papay as and apricots also contain vitamin A.
Good sources of Vitamin C are, citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, bell peppers, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli, cabbage, potatoes, chilli peppers, guava, kale, lemons, lychees, and papayas.
Vitamin D is a nutrient we eat and a hormone our body makes. When it comes to vitamin D, one way of having it is to be in the sunlight responsibly. For most people, the best way to get enough vitamin D is taking a supplement because it is hard to eat enough through food. The best food sources of vitamin D are oily fish, including salmon, mackerel, and sardines. They are also in egg yolks, sardines, cod liver oil, canned tuna, cow milk, orange juice, red meat, liver, and vitamin D fortified foods, such as cereal.
And vitamin E is found in plants-based oils, nuts, seeds, fruits, and vegetables. Sunflower and safflower. Almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, leafy green vegetables, pumpkin, red bell peppers. Goose meat, avocado, Brazil nuts, mango, snails, crayfish, and lobster.
Your body relies on selenium, an important mineral, for many of its basic functions, from reproduction to fighting infection. The amount of selenium in different foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where the food was grown. Food rich in selenium are fish, ham, enriched food, pork, beef, turkey, chicken, cereal and other grains and dairy products, cottage cheese, eggs, brown rice, sunflower seeds, baked beans, mushrooms, oatmeal, spinach, milk, yoghurts, lentils and beans, cashews, and bananas. Organ or muscle meats are the richest food sources of selenium.
Getting enough zinc in one’s system is essential for supporting one’s overall health. Our bodies do not store zinc, so it is important to eat enough daily. Some of the best sources of zinc can be found in red meat, poultry, shellfish, dairy products such as cheese and milk, eggs, cooked legumes in form of lentils and beans, certain nuts including peanuts, breakfast cereal, whole grains such as wheat, rice, oats, quinoa, seeds, and dark chocolates.
The best source of zinc is oysters, but it’s also plentiful in red meat and poultry. Other good sources of zinc include other kinds of seafood, nuts whole grains, breakfast cereals, and dairy products.
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