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Which foods and nutrients that can help boost your immunity

You are what you eat’ is an old adage, and we all know what it means - a healthy and balanced diet is the cornerstone of a strong immune system. That is because nutrition - namely, essential vitamins and minerals - are directly linked to your body’s immune response1.

Read on to discover the different foods which can help you to boost your immune system!

Fruits and vegetables

There are many benefits to making fruits and vegetables a significant part of your dietary consumption. Both contain an abundant amount of antioxidants and can help to reduce oxidative stress2, a naturally-occurring imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in your body that can lead to cell and tissue damage. Fruits and vegetables are also a healthy source of the essential vitamins and minerals needed for a strong immune system. For example, vitamin C, which is well recognised for its role in the human immune system3, can be found in citrus fruits, kiwis, peppers, broccoli, and spinach. Other fruits and vegetables, such as avocados, blackberries, green peas, and spinach are all good sources of zinc, a mineral which promotes the growth, maturation, and activity of immune cells4.

Nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds make for a great snack, and can also supplement your body with a healthy dose of the essential nutrients required to boost your immune system. For example, almonds are rich in vitamin E and B vitamins. They also have prebiotic properties that help to promote the production of immunity-boosting microbes in your body. Walnuts possess anti-inflammatory properties, which is thanks to its omega-3 fat content, and can help to strengthen your immune system with vitamin B65,6. Sunflower and pumpkin seeds provide a healthy source of vitamin E and B vitamins, as well as important minerals like copper, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

Meat and seafood

Including meat and fish in your diet can give your immune system a boost. Meat is not only a rich source of energy, but can also supplement your body with essential nutrients such as iron, zinc, copper, and vitamin B6. All of these nutrients play prominent roles in the support of healthy immune function. Alternatively, various types of seafood also contain B vitamins and can help your body to regulate inflammation, whilst also promoting the development of red and white blood cells5,6.

A bowl of cereal and blueberries

Bread and cereals

Whole grain bread, and cereals like oats, wheat, and brown rice are all healthy sources of B vitamins. These foods can help to strengthen your immune system and supplement your body with fibre, a nutrient that plays a role in modulating immune functions. If you are overweight, fibre can also help in your efforts to lower your BMI, which has been associated with improved immune strength7.

Vitamin and mineral supplements

If you’re not sure as to whether your diet provides your body with all the nutrients your immune system needs to become strong, you can opt to take a health supplement, which has been formulated specifically to boost your immune system against harmful infections8.

References:

  1. (Song et al, 2019; Patel et al 2012 and Gombart et al 2020).
  2. Barnard ND, Goldman DM, Loomis JF, et al. Plant-based diets for cardiovascular safety and performance in endurance sports. NUTRIENTS. 2019;11(1). pii: E130.
  3. S. Chambial et al., ‘Vitamin C in disease prevention and cure: an overview’, Indian Journal of Clinical Biochemistry, vol. 28, no. 4, 2013, p. 314-328.
  4. D. Konig et al., ‘Zinc, iron and magnesium status in athletes – influence on the regulation of exercise induced stress and immune function’, Exercise
    Immunol Review, vol. 4, 1998, p. 2-21.
  5. Maggini S. et al. Immune Function and Micronutrient Requirements Change over the Life Course. Nutrients. 2018 Oct 17;10(10). pii: E1531. doi: 10.3390/nu10101531.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30336639 
  6. U.S Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements: B12 https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB12-HealthProfessional/
  7. Haddad EH, Berk LS, Kettering JD, Hubbard RW, Peters WR. Dietary intake and biochemical, hematologic, and immune status of vegans compared with nonvegetarians. AM J CLIN NUTR. 1999;70(3 Suppl):586S-593S.
  8. Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients 2020;12.


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Your Immunity

 

 

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Build your immunity

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Check out some of our articles on how to support your healthy immune system effectively.