NB: YOU MUST CHECK WITH YOUR DR BEFORE MAKING ANY CHANGES TO YOUR DIET, ESPECIALLY WHEN IT COMES TO ADDITIONAL SUPPLEMENTS IF YOU ARE PREGNANT OR BREASTFEEDING, SOME OF WHICH MAY BE HARMFUL.
The immune system protects us from bacteria, viruses and fungi that bombard our everyday lives. It helps to fight against disease and infection. It does this by identifying non-self and self. 70% of your immune system is in your gut. There are many constituents that make up our immune system. They are the bone marrow, spleen, lymph system, thymus and the red and white blood cells. The immune system can overreact and can attack the body’s own tissue. This is called an ‘autoimmune response’. Conditions such as lupus and rheumatoid arthritis are autoimmune diseases. Lowered immune function is also linked to chronic fatigue, allergies, and parasite infections.
Possible causes of low immunity:
- Diets high in saturated or hydrogenated fat
- High sugary foods
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Poor gut flora
- Lack of fruit and vegetables
- Lack of essential fats such as fish
- Excessive alcohol, drugs or smoking
- Chemical pollutants
- Lack of sleep
Foods to eat
- Eat plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables. Good sources include carrots, beetroot, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and broccoli plus watermelon, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. Eat what you can raw, and lightly steam the rest.
- Ensure diet is high in quality protein such as chicken, quinoa, eggs, pulses, legumes or tofu. The body needs more protein when it is under attack.
- Eat essential fats in the form of oily fish such as salmon, trout and tuna. Try raw nuts and seeds as a snack too. These fats are essential for boosting immune function.
- Consume wholegrains in the diet such as brown rice, oats and buckwheat.
- Eat more freshly made soups. They are easy to digest and contain an abundance of nutrients.
- Try vegetable juices such as carrot, apple and ginger. These provide a powerhouse of vitamins A and C which are key for nourishing the immune system.
Foods to avoid
- Sugar, refined carbohydrates such as white bread, biscuits, cakes, chocolate as sugar depresses the immune system.
- Reduce your intake of saturated fats such as red meat, full dairy produce including milk, cheese, ice cream etc. These also suppress the immune system.
- Reduce your intake of caffeine and alcohol which deplete immune boosting nutrients and are a burden on immune function.
- Processed foods such as ready meals, luncheon meats and certain soups. These can contain high amounts of sugar and preservatives which can weaken immunity.
Supplements to consider
- A high-strength multi vitamin and mineral complex. Try Solgar VM-75 formula.
- An antioxidant formula containing vitamin C and zinc such as Biocare mixed ascorbates.
- A Probiotic such as Biocare Acidophilus to populate the gut with friendly bacteria. It is protective.
- A green food supplement such as Allergy Research ProGreens. Green foods help boost immunity.
- The herb Echinachea supports the immune system.
- Fish oil is a key element for strong immunity. Eskimo 3 fish oil is one of the best and priced well.
- Extra Vitamin D. Research has shown that vitamin D is just as important for immune fighting as vitamin C. Nutri do a good Vitamin D3 in liquid form.
By Rosie Millen, The Brompton Quarter