Our immune system does an amazing job of fighting disease and infections daily to keep us healthy. With winter and flu season approaching and living amid a global pandemic, many of us will be naturally concerned about our bodies’ ability to fight infection, our natural defences will be working harder than ever before.
Whilst no supplement, diet overhaul or lifestyle modification, except for social distancing and good hygiene can protect you from developing Covid-19. We can strengthen our immunity by considering the following dietary tweaks.
A HEALHTY DIET RICH IN FRESH FRUIT AND VEG
Fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and legumes are naturally high in vital nutrients like vitamin c and antioxidants that can help our bodies to fight infection and pathogens. Antioxidants help to combat free radicals that often cause inflammation when built up in the body.
HEART HEALTHY FATS
Another powerful aid in reducing inflammation and boosting your body’s ability to fight pathogens can be found in healthy fats. By incorporating foods like coconut and olive oils, avocado and omega-3 rich oily fish like mackerel and salmon can decrease inflammation and boost the body’s immune response.
Several studies from Arizona University suggest that a healthy, flourishing gut helps immune cells to differentiate between healthy cells and harmful organisms. Including foods rich in probiotics such as yoghurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi into your diet encourages a healthy gut.
LIMIT PROCESSED SUGAR & REFINED CARBS
Maintaining a healthy weight is key to reducing the risk of developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which can weaken the immune system.
By limiting your intake of processed sugar and refined carbohydrates can help curb obesity and being overweight.
Given that dehydration can affect your mood, causes headaches and dizziness, it can also make you more susceptible to illnesses. Drinking plenty of water ensures that your organs are hydrated and functioning properly.
We’ve broken down some of the key vitamins and minerals needed to support the immune system. Whilst it is always best to try and get your daily intake through the foods you eat, we recognise that it isn’t always achievable to hit your daily requirements just through diet alone and in this case supplements can help. Just be cautious – supplements cannot replace a healthy diet.
Below is a brief overview of some key vitamins and minerals and their natural sources:
Vitamin C – Deficiencies in vitamin c can leave you more susceptible to illnesses and because our bodies cannot produce it we need to get our daily quota through our diets. Incorporate foods like berries, broccoli, leafy greens, brussel sprouts and citrus fruits into you diet.
Vitamin B6 – Supports the biochemical reactions in the immune system. Include B6 rich foods like chickpeas, chicken and cold-water fish like tuna.
Vitamin E – Is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body to fight off infection caused by free radicals. Include nuts, seeds and spinach in your diet.
Vitamin D – A study in Denmark found that vitamin d played a role in activating T-cells in the immune system. Our skin produces vitamin d when exposed to sunlight. However we can also incorporate vitamin d rich foods like oily fish (salmon, mackerel), red meat and egg yolks.
Zinc is a macronutrient that affects how our bodies respond to infections and inflammation. Its only source is through the foods that we eat, try incorporating avocados, apricots, pumpkin seeds and oysters into your diet.