Caroline Davies (Thomas's Fulham & Clapham)
Eating Well to Boost Your Immune System

While good nutrition cannot prevent us from contracting viruses or bacterial infections, it can certainly strengthen and optimise the body’s immunity to enable it to fight infections to the best of its ability. A good wholefood diet (based on unprocessed ingredients) is naturally anti-inflammatory. 

Fruit and vegetables are the powerhouses of our immune system: aim for two portions of fruit and at least five portions of vegetables a day. It’s best to eat a variety of different colours, each colour providing different combination of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Remember frozen fruit and vegetables are just as nutritious, if not more so, than fresh. They provide a great source of Vitamin C, essential for a healthy immune system.

Soups, stews and smoothies are easy ways to include multiple portions of fruit and vegetables. Try to include mushrooms, garlic, ginger and turmeric in modest quantities too, all known for their antibacterial and antiviral properties.

Also look to use avocados, seeds and nuts in their natural states, (or the latter as unsalted nut butters) to provide the body with healthy fats. Eating two to three portions of oily fish (salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring, anchovies, etc) per week will ensure we get a good amount of essential omega-3 fats, vital for good immune function too.

70% of the body’s immune system in found in the gut. Eating probiotic foods daily will help our gut to work optimally. Probiotic foods include yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut and kimchi. Boosting your fibre intake with fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and legumes also helps to keep our gut bacteria happy.

We should try and minimise refined, processed foods, high animal protein and sugar.  These foods are nutrient poor; giving us calories but little in the way of goodness.  One of the (few) advantages of being stuck at home in isolation is that it may give us more time to cook using natural ingredients rather than relying on time-saving processed ready meals.

Although we may be tempted to reach for a bottle of wine in such a stressful situation, we should try and limit alcohol intake as it has a general negative effect on immunity.

Vitamin D is vital for optimum immune function and levels are often low at this time of year because of too little exposure to natural light. You can get a test online from www.vitamindtest.org.uk to find out if you are deficient. Public Health England recommends Vitamin D supplementation during the winter months in any case. Otherwise, the best solution (if permitted!) is to get out in the fresh air as much as possible, especially now that the sun is finally starting to appear after so many weeks of rain!

March 2020

Caroline is a registered Nutritional Therapist. She offers one-to-one nutritional consultations via Skype, Facetime or Zoom and – one day – face to face again! For more information on Caroline click HERE

 

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