How to boost your immune system with diet
Flu season is defiantly upon us and your immune system is fighting hard to prevent viral and bacterial invasions such as the common cold. When your immune system is under great stress it can fail, and let a diseased germ invade our body causing us to get sick. What we eat or don’t eat, regular exercise and a healthy sleep pattern all have a direct effect on our immune function via lowering stresses placed on our immune system.
Improving your immune system can easily be done by consuming colourful foods which are naturally packed full of antioxidants which help maintain homoeostasis in our bodies (a balance of good and bad). When it comes to what types of food strengthen our immune systems, the answer is simple; cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, brocoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts etc. Cruciferous vegetables are perfectly packed full of nutrients and sulfur containing compounds which support detoxification of our systems and organs to ensure they are preforming efficiently. They also contain a compound called indole-2-carbinol which has greatly been associated with reducing risk of cancers such as breast, colon and lung. Crucifours vegetables also contain a compound Sulforaphane, which activaes many genes in our body including glutathione, an antioxidant responsible for fighting free radicals and reducing inflammation. Brocolli contains large amounts of Sulforaphane, brocoli sprouts contain the highest amounts though Sulforaphane does deterioate when heated so be sure not to overcook your brocolli or eat it raw!
Fruit is also a huge immunity booster, studies have shown that if you consume just one apple each day this highly decreases your chances of contracting the common cold, therefore when you are looking for a mid-afternoon snack an apple should be your go to!
Dietary deficiencies such as poor protein intake, iron, zinc and vitamins A, E, B6 and B12 are highly associated with inadequate immune function though as always these nutrients should come from wholefoods rather than supplements due to supplementation of some nutrients can cause excess consumption and cause more damage. To ensure you are consuming adequate amounts of these nutrients, try to eat as many fruits and veggies throughout the day and try to consume at least 1 raw vegetable daily.
Sleeping for 8 hours each night is ideal though not always achievable if you have trouble sleeping you can try a few of these tricks;
- Not eating anything 3 hours before bed
- Switching off all technology at least 30 minutes before bed
- Partaking in some gentle yoga and breathing exercises before bed
- Reading a book whilst falling asleep
- Practicing meditation
Partaking in regular exercise has more benefits than increasing your fitness. It improves cardiovascular health, lowers blood pressure, lowers risk of diabetes, protects against cancers such as colon cancer and reduces obesity risk.
The science and reasoning behind what foods we should be eating can get a bit overwehlming, if you are noticing your immune system is not the best or you are constantly fighting a cold, increase your daily intake of crucifours vegetables (consumed raw when possible), eat an apple every day and consume a whole foods approach to your diet and your immune system will thrive!