Strengthening & supporting the immune system with proper nutrition & lifestyle choices helps to improve your immune response, build its resilience and reduce your susceptibility of contracting an illness.
Factors that affect our immune system include; diet & nutrition, exercise, gut health, & stress.
Around 70-80% of the immune system is located in the gut, so you will notice many of the foods listed are also important for our gut integrity and function. Other foods that can promote better gut health include; probiotics, prebiotics (indigestible fibers), fiber filled foods and fermented foods, such as sauerkraut.
Below are some strategies on how to improve, build & support your immunity to build its resilience and reduce susceptibility to illness.
- Get your diet right- Consume nutrient dense foods in their most natural form. Avoid processed and packaged foods, foods with additives, preservatives and limit added sugar intake.
- Specific nutrients to focus on:
- Vitamin C- This can be found in citrus, kiwi fruit, broccoli and capsicum
- Vitamin D- This can be found in eggs, fish, dairy products or through a supplement. Vitamin D3 is the active form of vitamin D
- Zinc- This can be found in red meat, poultry, fish, seeds, nuts & legumes
- Some herbs to help the immune system
- Olive leaf
- Exercise- Get moving! Exercise & physical activity of any form is important for our immunity, our gut health and our brain health
- Gut health- 80% of our immune system lies in the gut, so it’s critical our gut functioning correctly.
- Foods for our gut
- Probiotics & prebiotics
- Fermented foods
- Bone broth
- Stress- Stress can come in many forms; situational, which many off us feel on a daily basis, inadequate sleep and recovery, over training or under eating. All stress needs to be adequately managed and reduced, as stress increases the hormone cortisol which suppresses the immune system and damages the gut lining.
- Situational stress can be managed through many techniques such as mediation, deep breathing, stretching, exercise. Find what works for you and use it to help reduce your stress levels
- Sleep & recovery can be improved by improved nutrition, sleep strategies to improve sleep such as relaxation before bed, eliminating caffeine & alcohol in the afternoon/evenings, removing technology from the bedroom after a certain hour.
- Over training and/or under eating can be improved by becoming in tune with what your body needs and listening to it, proper time management to have the proper balance between eating and training, and improving overall nutrition intake
Overall, all of these points are important as part of a regular healthy diet and lifestyle, however it’s important now more than ever to include these practices. This will give our body the best tools and nutrients to build and maintain a good immune system, and we know a poor diet, high stress and poor sleep can negatively impact it. Stay healthy people x