Immune Supporting Diet

Our immune system is a complex hub of proteins, cells and particular organs that help us fight off infection. A well-functioning immune system is essential to our health and well-being against pathogens and viruses.

Many things influence how strong or weak our immune systems are. Some of these factors, like age and environmental toxins, are unfortunately out of our control, but some factors such as diet and chronic disease can certainly improve through lifestyle choices.

You may have heard the saying before that “you are what you eat” … as all the food we eat essentially fuels new cells and organ linings. This is true to a certain extent. Your immune system needs a steady supply of vitamins, minerals, and healthy food to keep making immune cells and fighting off infections. 

Some of the nutrients that have been identified as most important for your immune system health are listed below:

•  Vitamin C is a vitamin found in red and orange vegetables and fruits, such as tomatoes, citrus fruits (oranges, lemons) and strawberries.

•  Zinc: is a co-factor for many reactions in the body and is found in foods such as meat, nuts, and seafood. 

•  Selenium is a trace mineral, meaning we need minimal amounts, found in many whole-grain foods (brown rice, whole grain bread), cereals, and meat. 

•  Iron: found in red meat, fortified foods, nuts, and green vegetables.

•  Vitamin D: fatty fish, some fortified dairy products, egg yolks and cheese.

To ensure you are getting enough of the above nutrients, make sure you eat a balanced diet with plenty of food from each food group, including vegetables, fruit, meat or other protein products, nuts, seeds, and whole-grains. 

Try to eat minimally processed foods, reduce your takeaway/fast food and minimise your alcohol intake.

•  Protein: this is found in meat, tofu, soy, protein powders, dairy, eggs, nuts, and trace amounts in other foods. Protein is vital to build and repair body tissue and fight viral and bacterial infections. Too little protein in the diet may lead to symptoms of weakness, fatigue, apathy, and poor immunity.

Aim to eat some form of protein at each mealtime, but if you are not a big fan of having meat or eggs at each meal, don’t worry! You can have an easy option such as a protein shake as a snack from the Tony Ferguson RAPID range or the Tony Ferguson meal replacement shakes instead of a meal, including plenty of vitamins and minerals for healthy immune function.

Our other tips for a healthy immune system are to try to aim for 7-9 hours sleep each night, manage your stress as much as possible through relaxation techniques, and wash your hands regularly to minimise chances of picking up an infection that your body must fight off. Try implementing all these above strategies to keep healthy this winter!

 

Domino Puttick

Accredited Practicing Dietitian 

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