How to boost your immune system while you lose weight
There is no clear evidence that losing weight (gradually and in a healthy way) makes you more susceptible to illness or colds. However, if you are 'undernourished,' your immunity may suffer. This means you’re not getting enough vitamins, minerals and nutraceuticals your body requires to function properly. Likewise, carrying too much extra weight can increase inflammation in the body which has a knock-on effect on your immune system, making it less effective when infections strike.
When trying to lose weight, it is very tempting to cut out foods based on calories and ignore the nutrients they provide. Those foods on the cutting-room floor could very well be the foods of the future.
So, what foods are important for keeping you safe from the bugs and viruses that are floating around? There are a few basic meal planning tips to follow from a nutrition standpoint:
1. Consume at least 5 servings (handfuls) of various coloured vegetables EVERY DAY (I know this is a difficult one, which is why I put it first!)
2. 1 to 2 pieces of fruit per day, with a different variety on each day of the week! (A challenge awaits you!)
3. Consume a variety of foods. Try to consume 30 different plant foods over the course of a week. This will ensure you consume a diverse range of vitamins, minerals, and fibre, increasing your chances of meeting your nutritional requirements.
4. Get enough protein by eating two protein-rich meals and two protein-rich snacks twice a day. Depending on your exercise and weight, you may require more.
5. Increase your zinc and vitamin C intake by eating broccoli nuts, pumpkin seeds, beans, lentils, and citrus fruits.
6. Consume a variety of fibres to help your gut health (which is where the majority of your immune cells reside!). Consider how many different types of grains you can incorporate into your diet, such as rice, quinoa, pasta, wholemeal bread, lentils, cous cous, and so on.
Variety is the key to keeping your immune system fighting fit, Introducing and maintaining colour variety (fruits and vegetables), wholegrains, and protein-rich foods in your diet! If you're not sure how to incorporate all of these into a weight-loss eating plan, ask myself at firstname.lastname@example.org who can assist you.
Accredited Practising Dietitian