Foods to boost your immune system

Food is really important when it comes to keeping our immune system healthy. Here’s my advice for what you should eat to keep you fighting fit and help to protect you and your family against COVID-19

I’ve been asked many times now about foods we should be eating, or supplements we should be taking in order to support our immune system and keep us well, let me begin by saying there is no special supplement you should be taking or special diet that you should be following in order to keep you well. It’s not sexy, but it is what it is.

Foods to focus on

All you need to be focusing on is a balanced diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and a little protein. If you can get your hands on a little fermented food like sauerkraut or kefir this will be beneficial due to the microbes (probiotics) they contain. Natural yoghurt is also a good source. And that’s all you need to keep your immune system healthy.

I know it’s difficult right now with all the panic buying to get your hands on some items. Don’t worry about using fresh produce, you are going to get the same nutrition from frozen fruit and vegetables and canned beans, lentils and other pulses, just be sure to give your tinned products a little rinse first as they often contain salt. You can also stock up on dried packets like mixed grains and wild rice to give you a helpful fibre boost.

Supplements

Vitamin C, there is no strong evidence that vitamin C can either prevent you from getting a cold or reduce the symptoms of a cold. However it is an important part of a balanced diet so making sure you are getting plenty of vitamin C in your diet is helpful. Good sources include broccoli, berries, oranges, potatoes and peppers. Focus in getting variety in your diet and you’ll get all that you need.

Zinc, there is no strong evidence that zinc can protect you from or reduce a cold, if you dig really deeply, you can find some studies that show otherwise but they provide high doses in supplement form which in itself carries side effects that I think you’d want to avoid. You can easily get the amount of zinc that you need in your regular diet, so I recommend that you do it this way. Good sources are whole grains, dairy, nuts, fortified cereals, legumes and eggs. Again, I hope you can see, it’s really easy to get what you need.

Turmeric, said to relieve inflammation within the body, but again there isn’t a strong body of evidence. There was a recent trial that indicated that turmeric in powder form was able to affect the behaviour of a particular gene related to asthma and anxiety and depression, but further tests are needed to rule out other factors. But what it does imply is that including turmeric in small amounts in your regular diet in the form of curries or turmeric lattes isn’t going to be harmful and could provide some benefit.

Conclusion

So the overall message that I want to give you here is focus on getting as much colour, variety, and high fibre foods into your diet as possible while avoiding highly processed and junk foods. Keep mentally well by talking to your friends and family (even if this is online), laugh and get outside in nature. These are the things that will be protect you by supporting your microbiome and building your defences from the inside.

Most importantly, please stick with government advice with regards to hand washing and social distancing in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society.

If you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch via my contact form below.

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