Eating to support your immune system

April 3, 2020 BY: LISA

What can you do to support your immune system?

With the current coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, flu season and Winter just around the corner, there is a spotlight on ways to keep ourselves well by improving immune function. Importantly, rather than boosting the immune system, we really aim to support it, as an overactive immune system is just as unhelpful as a low functioning one.

You may have read that there are a number of vitamins and minerals that support your immune system. While it might seem logical to take a vitamin supplement, we actually find that vitamins do not behave the same from a capsule as they do from the food sourceā€¦that is, you may not receive the benefits!

Luckily, all the nutrients you need for a strong immune system actually all come from a balanced, healthy diet:

Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. Good sources include: citrus fruit, black currants, berries, kiwifruit, tomato, broccoli, red yellow and green capsicum, brussels sprouts

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin. Good sources include vegetable oils such as extra virgin olive oil and wheat germ oil, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables and some fortified cereals and margarines.

Selenium functions as an antioxidant.  Good sources include: brazil nuts, seafood, poultry and eggs, but is found in a range of foods and will vary with the soil content that plant foods are grown in.

Flavonoids are a diverse group of phytonutrients (plant chemicals) found in almost all fruits and vegetables. They are responsible for the vivid colours in fruits and vegetables. For example, lycopene is found in tomatoes, carotenoids give the yellow, orange colour to fruit and vegetables. Onions, tea, strawberries, kale, grapes, Brussels sprouts, citrus fruit, parsley, and many spices are just a few natural foods rich in flavonoids

Carotenoids are beneficial to health and they help produce Vitamin A.  Good sources include: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, watermelon, cantaloupe, capsicum, oranges, kale, spinach- many yellow, orange and red fruit and vegetables as well as green leafy vegetables.

Omega 3 fatty acids are found in fish and seafood and also occur in flaxseeds, walnuts and other oils such as canola, flaxseed and soybean.

Zinc: Whole grains and milk products are good sources of zinc. Many ready-to-eat breakfast cereals are fortified with zinc. Oysters, red meat, and poultry are excellent sources of zinc. Baked beans, chickpeas, and nuts(such as cashews and almonds) also contain zinc.

Garlic: When garlic is crushed it releases a compound called allicin which has been shown to help with inflammation and to have anti-oxidant capabilities and is also responsible for the garlic smell. 

Probiotics are the live bacteria in our gut and have been shown to play a large role in our immune system. While the science is not quite sophisticated enough to tell us exactly what bacteria we may need in our gut there are certainly foods that feed our good gut bacteria. 

Generally, foods that are fermentable are great for feeding our good gut bacteria. Things such as wheat, onion, garlic, cabbage, legumes, peas, asparagus, stone fruit, and dairy foods to name a few. 

Not only do the food listed above contain these great nutrients, there are also so many other great benefits of eating these whole foods, including numerous vitamins and minerals, energy and dietary fibre for keeping you regular.

So how do you factor this into your daily diet? 

Eat 2 fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day. Think VARIETY from the list above!

Enjoy 30grams of nuts and seeds each day

Have wholegrain and high fibre cereal products

Include healthy sources of oils such as extra virgin olive oil

Aim for 2-3 serves of fish per week

Eat lean animal sources of protein and aim to include plant based proteins such as legumes in your diet

Eat well and stay safe!

Lisa APD


All enquiries, Lisa 0413 956 107 Appointments 1300 725 806
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