What does our body need?
Our immune system relies on a high antioxidant intake, including nutrient-rich and anti-inflammatory foods in order to support detoxification and scavenging of free radicals.
Leafy green vegetables, berries, probiotic foods, clean protein, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, herbs and spices, and sufficient omega 3 fatty acids all contribute to an anti-inflammatory diet and a functional, healthy immune response.
At the same time, we should try to exclude sugar, unhealthy oils, preservatives, colourings, and additives, and minimise caffeine and alcohol.
Top foods for immunity
A diet rich in soluble fibre protects us from inflammation associated with endotoxins. Soluble fiber draws water into your gut to help support healthy bowel motions and detoxification. Examples of soluble fibre foods are beans, oats, lentils, artichoke, chicory, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries, peas, and potatoes.
Resveratrol is found in grapes, mulberries, rhubarb, and peanuts, (as well as other plants). It regulates innate and adaptive immunity and modulates immune function via it’s anti-inflammatory activity. Resveratrol inhibits the release of destructive immune reactions helps to keep a balanced immune response.
Omega 3 fatty acids
Omega 3 fatty acids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects, and also boost the immune system by enhancing B cell activity, which are a vital component of the immune system.
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kefir, miso, have immune boosting activity as they introduce beneficial bacteria into the gut. Much of our immune system is housed and generated from the gut, so having a good balance of beneficial bacteria with bacterial strain diversity is important. Research shows that lactic acid bacteria and fermentation metabolites in kimchi actually inhibit the growth of influenza virus (Korea Food Research Institute 2018).
Foods with antiviral properties are crucial in protecting us from harmful pathogens and supporting healthy immunity, Foods high in antiviral activity are coconut oil, MCT oil, garlic, oregano, kimchi, green tea, manuka honey, elderberry, ginger, medicinal mushrooms, apple cider vinegar.
Bone broth is a superfood full of minerals and nutrients to boost your immune system. It also helps to protect your gut lining in order to maintain a balanced immune response.
Vitamin C foods
Vitamin C functions as an antioxidant to support healthy immune responses and it’s found in leucocytes that are involved in immune defense. Decreased vitamin C levels leads to decreased immune function as well as increased risk of infection. High vitamin C foods include capsicum, broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, sweet potato, tomatoes, oranges, kiwis, strawberries, Kakadu plum, cantaloupe.
Foods rich in flavonoids (such as anthocyanin in blueberries) can help boost immune function. Flavonoids are beneficial in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system, and research has shown that people who eat foods rich in flavonoids are less likely to fall ill to the common cold. Flavonoids are found in brightly coloured fruit and vegetables: citrus fruit, berries, grapes, apples, plums, cherries, oranges.
Sunflower seeds and almonds are a rich source of vitamin E which is an antioxidant that has been shown to modulate immune function through anti-inflammatory activity.
The immune system is complex, however if we feed our body what it needs – a balanced diet full of antioxidants – then we go a long way towards protecting our health and wellbeing.
Book an appointment with your naturopath if you would like a tailored immune strengthening treatment plan.
1 x 30 min Immune Boost consultation (Individual). Learn how to boost your immune system, antiviral compounds, and key nutrients to help support strong immune health.
Yvette is a qualified Melbourne-based Naturopath and Nutritionist, MINDD Practitioner, member of the Naturopaths and Herbalists Association of Australia, and Complementary Medicine Association. Yvette specialises in the treatment of conditions commonly affecting women and children, with a key interest in children’s digestive and neurological conditions, as well as women’s hormonal concerns, digestive issues, fatigue, anxiety, and skin concerns. Yvette consults in South Yarra, Melbourne, as well as Australia-wide via skype/zoom/phone.