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Changes in the immune system are conditioned by nutrition


Undernutrition due to insufficient intake of energy and macronutrients and/or due to deficiencies in specific micronutrients impairs the immune system, suppressing immune functions that are fundamental to host protection. The most consistent abnormalities are seen in cell-mediated immunity, complement system, phagocyte function, cytokine production, mucosal secretory antibody response, and antibody affinity. There is a number of physiological situations such as ageing and performance of intense physical exercise associated with an impairment of some immune parameters' response. Nutrition can influence the extent of immune alteration in both of them. There are also numerous pathological situations in which nutrition plays a role as a primary or secondary determinant of some underlying immunological impairments. This includes obesity, eating disorders (anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa), food hypersensitivity and gastrointestinal disorders as some examples. The implications of nutrition on immune function in these disorders are briefly reviewed.

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Authors and Affiliations



Guarantor: A Marcos.

Contributors: A Marcos has been coordinator and supervisor of research projects on eating disorders and elite athletes, whose results are summarized in the manuscript. She has reviewed the manuscript and elaborated its final version. E Nova has written the text of the manuscript in collaboration with A Montero, and both have participated in research projects included in the manuscript.

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Correspondence to A Marcos.

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Marcos, A., Nova, E. & Montero, A. Changes in the immune system are conditioned by nutrition. Eur J Clin Nutr 57 (Suppl 1), S66–S69 (2003).

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