Our immune system helps us fight viruses and bacteria in complex and fascinating ways. Exploring the proactive ways we can support its work by what we eat has never been more important.
You can help your immune system to do its job protecting you from disease and infection by taking a holistic approach to health which includes sleeping well, exercising often, managing your stress and limiting your alcohol intake. However, what we eat also plays an important role in keeping us healthy. A diet full of fruits, vegetables and wholegrains (like the mediterrean diet) is the best way to ensure that what you eat is supporting your health and therefore your immune system.
While no one food holds the key to prevent illness, these foods in particular have long been thought to play a special role in assisting our immune systems. Here’s how they work:
Vitamin C is a key nutrient that helps regulate inflammation and supports both our general immunity and ability to fight specific diseases.73 Citrus fruits are a great source of this, but it isn’t just citrus fruits that are extremely high in vitamin C. Kiwi fruit is also very high in this immunity supporting nutrient, as are red capsicums.
How to eat more of these foods:
A healthy gut is thought to play a central role when it comes to the immune system, but we are still discovering why and how this connection works. Foods that are high in dietary fibre are great to support gut health which will in turn support the immune system. As are cultured and fermented foods like yoghurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and miso. They contain healthy bacteria like lactobacilli and sometimes bifidobacteria that are essential for a healthy gut.
How to get them into your day:
All cruciferous vegetables (think cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage and kale) are packed full of vitamins that support good health but what really makes broccoli stand out from the pack is the fibre it contains that can also contribute to a healthy gut.
How to get more broccoli into your meals:
Nuts (like macadamias) are an essential part of a healthy diet containing many key nutrients which help contribute to the good health that is important to immune function, including zinc, copper, iron, selenium, and folate. Australia’s native nut, with its creamy, buttery crunch, is also delightful to eat on its own as a healthy snack.
How to eat more macadamias:
Many people turn to ginger and garlic to support their immune systems during winter. Although the effect of these two flavour favourites on the immune system isn’t entirely clear, both these ingredients are known to be rich in phytonutrients which are important for overall good health.
How to eat more ginger and garlic:
What are your tips for eating more health supporting foods?