Most of us know that a healthy diet can help us stay fit and maintain a healthy weight. But did you know that what you eat can have an effect on your immune system as well?
Eating certain foods can actually help boost your body’s natural defenses against illness, while eating others has the opposite effect. Let’s take a look at how different types of food affect immunity, so you can make sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs to fight off infection!
What should you eat to support your immunity?
- Vegetables and fruit - a source of vitamin C and ß-carotene. Fresh fruits and veggies are full of vitamins and minerals, including antioxidants, which can help fight off bacteria and viruses.Some of the best options include citrus fruits, leafy greens (like kale and spinach), kiwis, mangoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and berries.
- Onion vegetables as a source of organic sulphides like onions, garlic, leek and chives.
- Vitamin D3.
- Fermented dairy products like yoghurt, kefir, buttermilk and acidophilic milk.
- Marine fish.
- Zinc-rich products like oysters, beef and other red meats, spinach, asparagus and whole grain products.
- Walnuts and other nuts contain healthy fats that may reduce inflammation in the body and contribute to better overall health. They are also a good source of vitamin E, which supports immunity. Aim for about one ounce per day of walnuts or another type of nut.
What you should avoid in your diet?
● Processed foods – Foods that are high in sugar and refined grains, such as cookies, crackers, baked goods, and pastries can lead to inflammation in the body and may even suppress the immune system! So skip the junk food and choose whole foods instead.
● Red meat – Some studies have found a link between red meat consumption and an increased risk of infection. Although it’s not clear exactly why this is the case, one theory is that eating lots of red meat may deplete our bodies of B vitamins, which support immunity. If you love red meat, try cutting back on it and replacing some of your daily protein with plant-based proteins, like beans, lentils, tofu, or nuts.
● Alcohol – Excessive alcohol intake has been associated with suppressed immune function. The reason is that ethanol found in alcoholic beverages can disrupt the balance of gut bacteria and negatively impact our immune response. It’s best to stick to moderate amounts of alcohol per day if you want to keep your defenses up!
In order to support your immune system and promote optimal health, aim to eat a well-balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats (like olive oil and avocados), and lean protein sources like fish.
Paying attention to what you put into your body is critical for ensuring that you stay strong and healthy!