Our immune system is one of the most complex systems in our body and is paramount in keeping us safe from any harmful bacteria, viruses and parasites this world throws at us. The current pandemic has left many people questioning ‘What can I do to strengthen my immune system?’
One of the easiest ways to support your immune system is by focusing on what we put into our bodies. Numerous vitamins, minerals and nutrients can enhance and support the body’s efforts to fight off those unwanted invaders we’d rather keep at bay.
Rainbow selections of fruit and veg, wholefoods, grains & pulses, proteins, healthy fats and fermented foods all contain the vital vitamins, minerals and polyphenols needed by our immune systems and to encourage the growth of our immune supporting gut microbiota.
Vitamin A, also known as the “anti-infective” vitamin, is one of the most important when it comes to protecting you from infections. For your daily dose of Vitamin A, opt for oily fish, eggs, full-fat milk and cheese. Butternut squash, pumpkins, carrots and other orange fruit and veg alongside leafy greens like spinach and kale are all great sources of anti-infective goodness.
Vitamin C and vitamin B6 help regulate our immune response by producing the white blood cells that fight off the nasty bacteria that enters our body. For B6, steer clear of refined carbs, instead switching to wholegrain alternatives. Fish, poultry and red meat (tofu for our veggie/vegan readers!) are all great sources. Oranges aren’t the only source of vitamin C, strawberries, blackcurrants and kiwis are all great addition to the fruit bowl and leafy green veg, frozen peas, as well as the humble potato are excellent sources too.
Vitamin D is essential for immune regulation as it plays a role in the formation of special white blood cells called T-cells. Living in England we all know how hard it is to get your daily dose of sunshine so supplementation may be needed. However, oily fish, eggs and fortified foods all help.
The minerals Zinc, Iron and Copper form an essential trio supporting the immune system’s proper function. Zinc modulates the immune system and Copper helps boost our white blood cell count, whilst Iron deficiency reduces the capacity of an immune response. Nuts, seeds, shellfish and wholegrains are all rich in these minerals. For extra Iron sources don’t forget red meat and dark leafy green veggies. Selenium helps by reducing oxidative stress and inflammation. Fish, shellfish, meat, eggs and Brazil nuts are all wonderful dietary additions for this mineral.
It is important to remember this is not an exhaustive list of nutrients to keep your immune system working at its best. A balanced, wholefood diet alongside plenty of water, regulated sleep cycles and other lifestyle factors such as daily exercise combined with an abundance of fresh air and sunshine will see you and your immune system fighting fit through these cold winter months.
Written by Complete Me Life - home of high quality nutritional support.