Key Nutrients to Keep Your Immune System in Tip Top Shape
You probably have hundreds of immune supporting articles
popping into your inbox at the moment and with good reason, as the coronavirus
isn’t fussy, it can infect all of us no matter how healthy we are. Now
more than ever it is vital to keep your immune system in optimum condition so
it is ready to fight off any illness or infection.
Many of us are now based at home and without the daily commute have gained
a bit of extra time - use it to look after yourself. Remember that every time
you eat, you have the power to nourish your body and keep that
powerful army of immune cells strong.
How do you do this?
a varied, nutrient-dense diet based around ‘real’ whole
foods that are as close to nature as possible. These 'real' foods will
provide your bodies with all the key nutrients required to keep every cell
in the body in peak condition. If you were fighting a war, you would
cherish your soldiers, keeping them fit and healthy and it's no different
for the immune system - our white blood cells are our inner army
so nourish them.
or avoid foods that cause damage to the immune system such as
over-processed foods and simple sugars such as fizzy drinks, sweets,
sweetened cereals and white goods (pasta, rice, flour). Try to swap white
for wholegrain - rice, pasta and flours. These complex carbohydrates are
slow to digest and will offer a drip feed of energy rather than surge of
sugars than is inevitably followed by a dip. Continued high
blood sugars or fluctuations in blood sugars can suppress the immune
system so it won’t be in peak condition to protect you.
Certain foods are tricky
to find in the shops at the moment but try to focus your basket on a variety of
fruits and vegetables, oily fish, organic meat and whole grains. Maybe use this
time as an opportunity to try out new ingredients.
Nutrients all work together to
ensure our bodies work optimally but below are a few key
ones that are particularly beneficial for a robust immune system, some
will be very familiar, others less so.
We all reach for vitamin C when a cold looms but do you know why? Vitamin C is
a powerful anti-viral nutrient used by the white blood cells to help destroy
pathogens and infected cells. Scientific studies show that it can decrease
the duration of a cold or infection. Vitamin C is water soluble so does not
store in the body - you need to top it up daily to keep levels high.
Foods: sounds like a cliché
but ‘eat the rainbow’ and it’s not just oranges that contain vitamin C.
Include red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, leafy greens, kiwi.
Vital for supporting the immune
system. It is antimicrobial and used by our white blood cells to
strengthen the way in which our immune system fights pathogens. Zinc has
performed well in clinical trials showing that it reduces the severity as
well as duration of colds and upper respiratory tract infections. Foods:
shellfish, eggs, pumpkins seeds, cheese, nuts
VITAMIN D - the sunshine
Vitamin D receptors have been
found on the surfaces of immune cells, showing that it is vital for the
functioning of the immune system. It can reduce inflammation and increases the
production of antimicrobial proteins. Deficiency is linked to a compromised
immune system. Foods: as well as enjoying the spring sunshine
(when it returns) include full fat dairy products, mushrooms, eggs and oily
A fat soluble nutrient that is a
powerful antioxidant The body uses vitamin E to regulate immune function. Foods
include nuts and seeds, salmon, leafy green vegetables.
These are specialised sugars that
exist in certain foods and can have wondrous effects upon immunity. They have
been shown to increase the production of white blood cells and the level
of response to pathogens or damaged cells. Just a small amount
of these compounds daily can give the immune system a bit of a
kick. Foods include mushrooms especially shiitake and
maitake, as well goji berries.
PROBIOTICS AND PREBIOTICS
Gut health is vital for immunity
as 70% of our immune cells are found in the lining of our gut wall.
The trillions of gut bacteria that live in our colon have hundreds of
functions, one of which is regulating the immune system to keep it strong
and balanced. Supporting your gut bacteria by eating probiotic and prebiotic
foods will ensure the immune cells of the gut wall are protected and primed to
fight off invaders.
are the foods that contain beneficial bacteria such as plain
yoghurt, kefir and other fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
the non-digestible fibres on which the bacteria feed. Foods
such as artichokes, asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic and bananas
are good prebiotics.
This is the precursor to one of our bodies most powerful
antioxidants called glutathione. Clinical trials have proved that selenium can
be a powerful support to the immune system. Foods include Brazil nuts (just 2 day is
enough!), brown rice, chicken and mixed seeds.
Caroline runs Everyday Healthy Cookery Classes and if you need some recipe inspiration or have an ingredient that you have no idea how to cook do get in touch. For more information click HERE
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