We generally only think about our immune health when we’re ill, looking for things to ‘boost’ the immune system. While this can be helpful in the short term, improving and maintaining our baseline resilience means we have a better buffer in times of need - for example when exposed to colds, flu, stressful or busy periods, as well as an increased capacity to recover faster. Frequent bacterial, fungal or viral infections of more than twice a year or over 1-2 weeks recovery from infections can indicate a compromised immune system. Having a balanced wholefood diet with regular daily intake of the below foods provides your body with the nutrients it needs for a healthy functioning and responsive immune system.
Foods rich in vitamin A such as oily fish, squash and sweet potato help to support a healthy gut & respiratory lining. This is important as most common infections are generally gastro or respiratory in nature so a healthy lung and gut lining provides a good first line of protection.
Vitamin C has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties and also helps to protect the thymus which is responsible for the health of your immune system. Food sources include berries, broccoli, peppers
Zinc works in conjunction with vitamin A and is well known for it’s role in a healthy immune system. Zinc is found in meat, beans, nuts and wholegrains. A good quality zinc supplement is also very useful to have in stock over winter season.
Adequate B vitamins are needed to support a healthy immune system in particular B6, B12 and folic acid, they are involved in the production of white blood cells and antibodies that help the body fight infection. Good sources are nuts, seeds, meat, green leafy veg. Frequent intake is needed throughout the day.
Vitamin D deficiency is common especially over the winter months, it helps to regulate the immune response and low levels can affect immunity. Ask your GP for a blood test if you feel you may be deficient, you may need to be supplemented. Good sources are egg yolks, oily fish and sunshine!
Vitamin E and Iron help the body fight infection and improves immune system response rate. Food sources include nuts and seeds, oily fish, dark leafy greens, avocados, lentils. Iron works better when taken with vitamin C, avoid caffeine and dairy at the same time as Iron as it can affect absorption.
Selenium is also involved in the production of infection fighting cells in the body. We don’t need much so just eating 1-2 Brazil nuts a day will be enough to get the needed amount.