Boosting Immunity With Grape Nutrients

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The outside world is full of harmful substances like bacteria, viruses and fungi. Therefore, it is our job that we are fully protected in the best way possible. Luckily for us, our bodies already have inbuilt defences in the form of the immune system which prevents pathogens from coming in and if they do it removes them.

It is our responsibility to ensure that our immune health is always of the best standard. One of the ways of doing this is by keeping a good, healthy balanced diet and incorporating nutrient and vitamin-rich foods like grapes into our diet. This short but informative article will give you a bigger insight into the role of our immune system and the way that certain components of grapes enhance the immune system. 

Introduction

One of the most complex and important networks in our body is the immune system. Our immune system comprises a mixture of cells, soluble factors and tissues that all work together to protect us from harm including harmful substances and germs.1,2 When exposed to a certain foreign substance or pathogen including bacteria, viruses and parasites an immune system will trigger a variety of pathways and molecules to try and protect our body.1 It is estimated that we come into contact with around 60,000 types of germs daily.

Therefore, without the vigilant protection of our immune system, we would find ourselves in a vulnerable situation. Just like anything else, to ensure that our immune system is always in the best condition and working at an optimum level, it is our responsibility to maintain our immune system always strong and healthy to protect us from the outside world. One way to do this is to increase the intake of certain vitamins and nutrients found in a variety of food sources to boost our immunity.

Fruits like grapes are dense in nutrients including vitamins E and C, phytochemicals and other compounds such as melatonin which all play roles in enhancing our immune system. By boosting the immune system and other components in the body, grapes have been shown to positively contribute to the reduction and prevention of certain diseases like diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular diseases, and cancer.3 

The immune system

The immune system comprises a large network of cells that act as the first line of defence when encountering harmful agents including pathogens. In particular, there are three main tasks which the immune system does including the removal, neutralisation and fighting of foreign pathogens including bacteria, fungi and viruses, the immune system needs to remove it.1 

To complete these 3 simple yet crucial tasks, the immune system needs to employ a variety of cells with two main types of cells, including T-cells and B-cells. T cells can be described as the first line of defence that finds, attacks and removes the pathogens from our body.

However, for more complex pathogens this is not always possible and B cells need to be recruited. B cells are responsible for producing Y-shaped proteins known as antibodies which destroy the foreign substances by binding to specific parts of the foreign substance known as antigens. Many nutrients and vitamins boost the immune system by contributing to the production of both T and B cells and many other cells.

Therefore, to give our bodies sufficient fuel and power to combat these infections, it is essential to keep a healthy balanced diet and incorporate as many nutritional powerhouses including grapes and grape products into our diet.3

Grapes

There are different varieties of grapes all part of the family known as Vitis. The health benefits of grapes have been known for a very long time by Greek philosophers. Even now, grapes are very popular healthy fruits with an estimated 23.38 million tons of grapes being produced in 2019 and 2020.

The majority of the grapes are produced in China, followed by India and Turkey. Depending on the site of production the variety, taste, texture and colour change. There are many grape products which all need to use appropriate grape types as demonstrated by the wide range of wine collections.4

Grape nutrients and immunity

Grapes are excellent fruits to boost immunity and pose a variety of health benefits due to the abundance of components like vitamins, minerals, lipids, fibres and phenolic compounds. In addition, there is also a high amount of bioactive compounds which contribute to grapes having antioxidants, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic activities. All of these components both separately and put together work together to boost our immunity and overall health.4

Antioxidants

One of the key components of grapes is antioxidants which play a part in both boosting our immunity and overall health. Some of the roles of antioxidants include reducing oxidative stress, enhancing our immune system and increasing healthy longevity.5 Oxidative stress, in particular, can be very detrimental and has been linked to many chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Therefore, by consuming grapes, you will reduce oxidative stress and also the probability of developing these conditions.6 In addition, antioxidants are also known as ‘free radical scavengers’ due to their role in neutralising free radicals. Free radicals, also known as reactive oxygen species, can damage our DNA and cells, including our immune cells, and subsequently lead to diseases like cancers.

Even though all grapes contain some antioxidants, it is important to be aware that different grapes contain different amounts of antioxidants depending on where they were cultivated, and grown and also the conditions they were exposed to. For example, it was found in a study that grapes including the Pearl Black Grape, Summer Black Grape, Pearl Green Grape, Seedless Green Grape, and Seedless Red Grape are some of the grape types with the highest sources of antioxidants that have very high health benefits.6

Vitamins 

Grapes are vitamin-rich fruits meaning that they contain many vitamins which boost our overall health and immunity. Some of the vitamins found in grapes include:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, plays several vital roles in our immune health. There are many levels of defence that our immune system has to prevent us from being harmed by foreign substances. The first line of defence against pathogens from entering our bodies is the skin.

Vitamin C contributes to collagen production supporting the skin's integrity and maintaining it strong against pathogens. White blood cells are another crucial part of our immune system as they help fight pathogens which may have passed the immune system’s first line of defence. Vitamin C is one of the key components in the production of white blood cells.7

Vitamin A

Vitamin A also contributes to our immune system’s first line of defence and has many roles in the body, including in maintaining the health of our mucous membranes. The mucus membrane produces mucus in places which are prone to the entry of different pathogens including the mouth, nose, and eyes. By keeping these places moist, the mucus membrane can trap the pathogens preventing them from entering the body and causing detrimental infections.8

Vitamin B

Vitamin B is necessary for the development and maintenance of immune cells and aiding in the synthesis and repair of DNA. Our immune system needs cells to carry out its function which requires a good amount of energy and good DNA synthesis to combat infections and pathogens. Thiamine and folate, two types of B vitamins work together to ensure that the immune system has energy by converting food into energy, and ensuring that our DNA is healthy.9,10

Minerals

In addition, to the many vitamins in grapes, grapes are also very dense in minerals including potassium, sodium, zinc, calcium, iron and phosphorus. 

Potassium

Potassium is a mineral that has been linked with the prevention of many diseases and also neutralising digestive acids. One of the things that can compromise our immune system is the digestive system which is too acidic. Therefore, by potassium neutralising the acids made during digestion, it protects the digestive system. 

Sodium

There are many immune cells in our body in organs like the kidney, intestines and the skin. Sodium is a crucial mineral required for balance regulating things like inflammation and helping with autoimmune conditions.

Zinc

Zinc is involved in the production of immune cells like neutrophils, natural killer cells, macrophages and lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell. All of these cells contribute to our immune system by working together to help fight the pathogen. 

Iron

Iron is very closely associated with our immune health and crucial for the development and ability to produce an adequate immune response. One of the most important roles of iron is the contribution to the proliferation and specialisation of immune cells, especially the lymphocytes.11

Polyphenols in grapes

There are many polyphenols and phenolic compounds in grapes such as anthocyanins, flavanols, flavonols, resveratrol and phenolic acids. All of these polyphenols contribute to our good health and hence boost our immune system. This is because they exhibit antioxidant, anti-cancerous, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties.12

Incorporating grapes into your diet

One of the best things about grapes is their versatility and the ability to incorporate them into our diet easily. There are many ways that grapes can be enjoyed allowing us to maintain a strong and healthy immune system. Some of the most common, delicious and diverse ways of incorporating grapes into our diets include: 

  • Fresh grapes as a snack and dessert
  • Adding grapes to salads and yoghurt
  • Including grapes in smoothies and juices
  • Consuming grape products including grape juice, jam, and grape wine 

Summary

To conclude, there are many different types of grapes which all possess similar health benefits due to their similarity in the compounds, vitamins, minerals and polyphenols. One of the greatest health benefits of grapes is their role in promoting a healthy immune system and contributing to the growth of immune cells like natural killer cells, white blood cells and macrophages.

Grapes are imported from all over the world and depending on the region, climate and growth conditions the health benefits can vary. For example, the amount of anti-oxidants in certain grapes like the Pearl Black Grape is much higher compared to other grape types.

Nevertheless, the majority of grapes contain vitamins like vitamins A, B, and C and minerals like potassium, calcium and zinc which all positively contribute to our immune system. 

References

  1. How does the immune system work? In: InformedHealth.org [Internet]. Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2020. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279364/ [Accessed 19th November 2023].
  2. Varadé J, Magadán S, González-Fernández Á. Human immunology and immunotherapy: main achievements and challenges. Cellular & Molecular Immunology. 2021;18(4): 805–828. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41423-020-00530-6 .
  3. News ABC. 10 germy surfaces you touch every day. ABC News. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/ColdandFluNews/story?id=5727571&page=1 [Accessed 19th November 2023].
  4. Izadfar F, Belyani S, Pormohammadi M, Alizadeh S, Hashempor M, Emadi E, et al. The effects of grapes and their products on immune system: a review. Immunological Medicine. 2023;46(4): 158–162. https://doi.org/10.1080/25785826.2023.2207896 .
  5. Cano RLE, Lopera HDE. Introduction to t and b lymphocytes. In: Autoimmunity: From Bench to Bedside [Internet]. El Rosario University Press; 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459471/ [Accessed 19th November 2023].
  6. Sabra A, Netticadan T, Wijekoon C. Grape bioactive molecules, and the potential health benefits in reducing the risk of heart diseases. Food Chemistry: X. 2021;12: 100149. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fochx.2021.100149 .
  7. Tan BL, Norhaizan ME, Liew WPP, Sulaiman Rahman H. Antioxidant and oxidative stress: a mutual interplay in age-related diseases. Frontiers in Pharmacology. 2018;9: 1162. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphar.2018.01162 .
  8. Liu Q, Tang GY, Zhao CN, Feng XL, Xu XY, Cao SY, et al. Comparison of antioxidant activities of different grape varieties. Molecules : A Journal of Synthetic Chemistry and Natural Product Chemistry. 2018;23(10): 2432. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules23102432 .
  9. Abdullah M, Jamil RT, Attia FN. Vitamin c(Ascorbic acid). In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK499877/ [Accessed 19th November 2023].
  10. McEldrew EP, Lopez MJ, Milstein H. Vitamin a. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482362/ [Accessed 19th November 2023].
  11. Merrell BJ, McMurry JP. Folic acid. In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554487/ [Accessed 19th November 2023].
  12. Martel JL, Kerndt CC, Doshi H, Franklin DS. Vitamin b1(Thiamine). In: StatPearls. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482360/ [Accessed 19th November 2023].

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This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Maariya Rachid Daud

MSc Molecular biotechnology, University of Birmingham

Hi, my name is Maariya and I am currently a student at the Univeristy of Birmingham studying a masters in molecular biotechnology. I love reading and writing articles about a wide range of topics with the hope of allowing everyone to learn how to live a healthier happier life. I especially enjoy writing articles that are targeted to people with non-scientific backgrounds giving everyone the opportunity to learn more about biology. I really hope that you find all my articles interesting and insightful.

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