This Research Topic is part of the Nutritional and Physical Activity Strategies to Boost Immunity, Antioxidant Status and Health series
- Nutritional and Physical Activity Strategies to Boost Immunity, Antioxidant Status and Health
- Nutritional and Physical Activity Strategies to Boost Immunity, Antioxidant Status and Health, Volume II
- Nutritional and Physical Activity Strategies to Boost Immunity, Antioxidant Status and Health, Volume III
Immunity is the inherent ability of the immune system to defend against infection and disease caused by pathogens (bacteria, virus, fungi, parasites). It is a complex biological network, classified into `innate' (non-specific, rapid) and adaptive (specific and acquired) immunity. In both systems several components, including molecules, cells and tissues synergistically participated in a highly orchestrated manner. Immune system plays an integral role in organ protection and function, cell division, vascular remodeling, tissue oxygenation and homeostasis. However, the immune system can be weakened by poor nutrition, alcohol, smoking, aging, stress and insufficient physical activity, which increases the risk of infection. We recently witnessed that people with weakened immunity and comorbidities (hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory issues) are at higher risk for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection, severe disease (COVID-19) and disease-induced death. Conversely, strong immunity can prevent the infection and decrease the severity of diseases that are associated with inflammation and oxidative stress.
There are several ways to boost our immunity, including proper diet, nutrition, exercise and healthy lifestyle. Foods and nutrients such as, protein, fruits, vegetables, fermented foods, probiotics, vitamins (A, B, C, D) and trace elements (zinc, selenium, magnesium) are well-known to enhance immunity. Diet that contains natural antioxidants not only counteracts the harmful free radicals, but also promotes immunity and prevents infection. Furthermore, intake of antioxidant vitamins is associated with decreased incidence of cancer, possibly due to improved immune response. At molecular level, vitamins and their metabolites upregulate the gene expressions in immune cells, and play a crucial role in maturation, differentiation and responsiveness of immune cells. Physical activity and nutrition are important in healthy lifestyles and promote immunity and antioxidant status. Moderate physical activity or regular exercise is associated with decrease in all-cause mortality through increased immune, inflammatory and antioxidant systems. Exercise has been shown to improve immune system and anti-viral defenses. Regular-moderate intensity exercise further suggested as an auxiliary tool in strengthening and preparing the immune system to fight against COVID-19. However, optimum intensity, type and duration of exercise on the immune system need to be further investigated in COVID-19 patients.
Recent studies emphasized and concluded that nutrition and physical activity are essential in shaping human immunity and health. The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommended regular exercise and dietary guidelines for healthy immunity management. However, there are lack of reports to demonstrate the significance of nutritional and physical activity interventions in various diseases with compromised immune, antioxidant and inflammatory systems. Malnutrition with deficiency of multiple nutrients and insufficient physical activity eventually contributes to immune-related issues. Therefore, personalized nutrition with or without a tailored exercise regimen (based on requirement and ability) could be the most valuable and practical approach to boost the immune system. Such an approach could further facilitate availability of required nutrients that could activate signaling cascades in the inflammation and antioxidant arsenal.
Immunonutrition is an emerging multidisciplinary subject that comprises several aspects related to nutrition, immunity, infection, inflammation and injury or tissue damage. Here, we intended to understand the role of nutrition and physical activity on various forms of immunity, especially under immunocompromised conditions. To expand ideas and practical strategies to manage immune-related diseases, we urge scientists to share their innovative findings on this thematic issue. We welcome authors to submit their high quality papers as original articles, reviews, systematic reviews or meta-analysis.
We would like to acknowledge Prof. Weibing Ye
has acted as coordinator and has contributed to the preparation of the proposal for this Research Topic.