According to research, a lack of health education combined with unhealthy work and personal lifestyle patterns has produced a steady decline in the well-being of many men (1). Studies have shown that wellbeing indeed effects how the immune system performs. A recent review on the effects of wellbeing showed that immunity is altered by a person’s emotions, personality, and social status as well as by other lifestyle variables such as nutrition, sleep, exercise and even obesity (2).
Functional foods are foods that have a potentially positive effect on health beyond basic nutrition such as prevention of disease. Many functional foods contain new ingredients or more of existing ingredients we know promote good health. Sometimes traits have been bred into existing edible plants to enhance their therapeutic potential such as purple potatoes that have been bred to contain higher amounts of disease fighting compounds called carotenoids or anthocyanins.
Examples of some top functional foods that may help enhance the immune system include:
- Acai berry: Research shows this wonder berry has polysaccharides which stimulate immune responses and may be helpful when treating infectious diseases (3).
- Aloe vera: Contains acemannan, pronounced “ace-man-nan”, a polysaccharide that is found in the inner part of the leaves. This compound is known to have antiviral and antitumoral activities and activate the immune system (4).
- Chlorella: In an eight-week study, healthy adults who consumed chlorella demonstrated blood markers of increased immune activity (5).
- Ginger: Current evidence supports that ginger is an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative and that its functional ingredients such as gingerol may even be valuable in the prevention of various cancers (6).
- Pumpkin seeds: Research has shown that pumpkin seeds contain powerful bioactive compounds that show potential in reducing microbiological infections as well as liver and prostate disorders (7).
- Shiitake mushroom: A study published by the Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology in 2009 reported that polysaccharide compounds found in Shiitake were able to stimulate the activation of macrophages. Macrophages are white blood cells that are significantly involved in the body’s initial response to an infection from an invading micro-organism (8).
Functional foods and functional food supplements can be especially beneficial for men who:
- Struggle to maintain a healthy balanced diet
- Feel tired and run-down
- Are frequently unwell
- Have digestive complaints
- Have poor quality sleep
Product Highlight: Top Up Men for Men is a nutritious plant-based superfood blend that is specifically formulated for men. The nutrient-rich, organic wholefoods (including acai berry, aloe vera, chlorella, ginger, pumpkin seeds, shiitake plus more) deliver plant-derived vitamins, phytonutrients and antioxidants alongside enzymes, prebiotic fibres, and probiotics to support optimal energy, performance and immune health in men.
1. Mens Health Network, (2020). Goals. Accessed 19/4/2022, available at: https://www.menshealthnetwork.org/goals
2. Lasselin J, Alvarez-Salas E, Grigoleit JS, (2016). Well-being and immune response: a multi-system perspective. Curr Opin Pharmacol; 29:34-41.
3. Holderness J, Schepetkin IA, Freedman B, et al, (2011). Polysaccharides isolated from Açaí fruit induce innate immune responses. PLoS One. 2011;6(2):e17301.
4. Lee JK et al, (2001). Acemannan purified from Aloe vera induces phenotypic and functional maturation of immature dendritic cells. Int Immunopharmacol;1(7):1275-84.
5. Kwak JH, Baek SH, Woo Y, Han JK, Kim BG, Kim OY, Lee JH, (2012). Beneficial immunostimulatory effect of short-term Chlorella supplementation: enhancement of natural killer cell activity and early inflammatory response (randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial). Nutr J;11:53,1475-2891-11-53.
6. Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR, (2013). Anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory effects of ginger in health and physical activity: review of current evidence. Int J Prev Med,4(Suppl 1):S36-S42.
7. Joachim M. Dotto, James S. Chacha, (2020). The potential of pumpkin seeds as a functional food ingredient: A review, Sci African;10;e00575.
8. Lee HH, Lee JS, Cho JY, Kim YE, Hong EK, (2009). Study on immunostimulating activity of macrophage treated with purified polysaccharides from liquid culture and fruiting body of Lentinus edodes. J Microbiol Biotechnol;19(6):566-72.