A big part of maintaining good health is having a strong defense system, and the one we have inside our bodies is nothing to be trifled with. Still, we are under attack pretty much 24/7 from a variety of potentially harmful agents such as viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens that can make our life miserable if they break through our defense and land a proverbial punch.
The defense system we have is one we are born with, and it’s better known as our immune system. It’s a mechanism that can’t be defined as just a single organ within our bodies, acting as a shield or force field. It’s a bit more complicated than that, yet there are some pretty simple rules when it comes to giving our immune system a fighting chance to do its job and protect us from illness and other diseases. Two of those simple rules are formulating a healthy lifestyle – to include proper amounts of sleep and exercise – and eating the right kinds of food that boost our immunity powers, such as citrus fruits.
What Is Our Immune System?
Our immune system is a miracle of science – something that we are born with and which grows with us. It has the uncanny ability to recognize an invading pathogen looking to cause us harm. It then knows to take decisive action to either fight off the pathogen or help our body recover from its effects once an enemy combatant manages to penetrate our defenses.
As described at heath.harvard.edu, our immune system is exactly what the name says, a system, not a single entity of which we can take pictures. In order to function optimally, it requires balance and harmony, and we have a hand in making all that mesh properly. Yet, there is a lot about our immune system that scientists and other health experts still are at a loss to explain and define, mainly concerning all the intricacies and interconnectedness of all that comprises our immunity functions.
How Do Citrus Fruits Come into Play?
That’s an easy one to answer – buy them and eat them. Ask almost any nutrition or health expert to name the best foods to eat in order to bolster our body’s immune function, and citrus fruits almost always are at the top of the list, or at least in the top three.
When we need citrus fruits, we go to a grocery store and head to the produce section to hunt down these fruits, which grow on flowering trees and shrubs, per healthline.com, and are characterized by bright colors, a sweet taste (well, OK, not exactly true for all of them), a tough rind (outer skin) and a white pith that contains juicy pieces.
Why citrus fruits, when it comes to immunity enhancement? Because they contain an abundance of vitamin C, which has been pegged as a compound proven effective in boosting the production of white blood cells, which in turn are key in fighting infections. There’s nothing complex about that – it’s just what white blood cells do.
It's All Up to Us
When it comes to vitamin C, our body needs us to lend that helping hand – it needs for us to dutifully consume vitamin C because it can neither produce nor store C on its own, per healthline.com. Not all citrus fruits are the same, obviously, for they each contain their own set of nutrients other than vitamin C, all with various health benefits, not just immunity boosters, to help the body function properly,
That is to say, there is more to citrus fruits than vitamin C and staving off colds and flu. Per healthyeating.sfgate.com, published research has confirmed the identification of more than 8,000 flavonoids found in all kinds of fruits and vegetables, with many of them ending up in citrus fruits. Some of these flavonoid compounds embedded in citrus fruits include quercetin, rutin, hesperidin, apigenin, and tangeretin – all of which have been linked to being responsive to various immune malfunctions such as rampant inflammation.
Following is a list of popular citrus fruits:
Other characteristics of citrus fruits that have been singled out as beneficial for our health:
- Low on calories.
- A good source of fiber.
- Might diminish the risk of developing kidney stones.
- Could boost heart health.
- Inhibit development of neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, which are possible outcomes of cells breaking down within the nervous system.
On a side note, should we be concerned about prolific consumption of citrus fruits and extended exposure to the sun? Read this interesting article about how citrus fruits took a bit of a public image hit a few years ago.