With COVID-19, there's a lot in the media right now about how to 'boost' your immune system! But what does it all mean?! And what's 'real?!
👇 Check this out...
Nutrition is an integral part of a healthy immune system. Before you reach for the supplements to ‘boost your immunity’ have a read of this post.
Technically, if we’re normally healthy, we don’t need to ‘boost’ our immune system. What we want to aim for is a balanced lifestyle that supports our immune systems every day. This is especially important during prolonged periods of exercise lasting for more than 2 hours.
Key things to remember include:
• 💤- regular sleeping patterns (7-8 hours).
• 😰 - managing stress, especially chronic.
• 🚶 - being physically active & enjoying the process of exercise.
• 🥗 - nutrition, but actually following a balanced diet including the 5 major food groups, limiting junk food, alcohol & staying hydrated.
However, there are a few key nutrients that we shouldn’t miss out of our diet as they play an important role in supporting our immune functions:
1. Vitamin C - is one of the most well-known vitamins for its role in immunity. It actually influences the production of every new cell, in particular collagen (skin) which is our first line of defence against foreign bodies. It also plays a vital role as an antioxidant & reduces free radical damage in our blood & organs. Most fruit & veg contain vitamin C. High levels are found in Kakadu plum, strawberries, capsicum & oranges (Carr A, Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(11):1211).
2. Vitamin D - known for its role in bone formation & homeostasis. But it also plays another major role in our health. Some call it the superhero of our cells as it tells broken or non-functioning cells to self-destruct, which can help to keep our immune systems functioning effectively, thus can prevent certain auto immune conditions. Food sources of vitamin D are limited, but you will find some in fortified milks, egg yolks & oily fish (Chen-Yen Yang, The implication of vitamin D and autoimmunity. J Clin Allergy Immunol. 2013; 45(2): 217-226.
3. Zinc - zinc is a structural component of our DNA, it influences gene expression (new cells) in particular, red bloods cells & immune cells. Low zinc levels have been linked to a high risk of infection and poor immune system response. Good sources include seafood, meat, nuts & seeds. (Saunders AV, Zinc and vegetarian diets. Medical Journal of Australia. 2013;199(S4):S17-S21.
4. Selenium - is an important mineral for a healthy functioning liver. It plays a role in the production of enzymes that help with reducing free radical damage to certain immune cells, thus supporting our immune system function. Good sources include chicken, eggs & brazil nuts (Hoffmann PR, the influence of selenium on immune responses. J Mol Nutr Food Res. 2008; 52 (11): 1273-1280.
What we eat consistently makes such a big difference - little swaps really do make a change!
Thanks to Luke Daley from Daley Nutrition for sharing his valuable insights in to eating to support a healthy immune system! Follow the Daley Nutrition team on Instagram for great recipes, workouts and information @lukedaley_nutritionist