Nutritional Approaches for Immune Health:
by Mary Hearty, Sports Nutritionist and Nutritional Therapist – Right Choice Nutrition.
Your immune system fights off viruses, bacteria and other organisms
which try to attack you and cause illness. If you thought that it was only
hand sanitizers and toilet rolls that were flying off the shelves you will be
surprised to hear that immune boosting supplements are also being
bought in bulk. If only immunity was as simple as popping a pill. The
body needs an adequate supply of macronutrients (carbohydrates,
proteins and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) to support the
cells and tissues of the immune system. In particular we need adequate
doses of proteins, fats, vitamins A,C,D,E, B6, folate and minerals zinc,
iron, magnesium and selenium to fight off infections. The everyday diet
is the best source to obtain this variety of nutrients.
Damp and cold, lack of sunlight, combined with stress of some kind,
poor sleep, an underlying health problem or some kind of infection or
inflammation and our body’s defense mechanisms are taxed to the max.
Nutrient dense foods and healthy bacterial population in the gut may be
lacking in many individuals diets. Fermented foods, oily fish and green
vegetables can help boost our immunity while removing processed foods
that weaken the immune system.
Inflammation is the body’s initial healing response to trauma from an
invader, such as infection or injury, which damages tissues/muscles.
Inflammation is necessary for survival but the process becomes
damaging if it turns chronic, continuing for weeks, months or indefinitely.
Inflammation is a key factor in the development of many chronic
diseases including autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis,
coeliac disease and inflammatory bowel disease, cardiovascular
disease, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, osteoporosis and many
Immune Boosting Nutrients:
Eat foods rich in vitamin A such as organic liver and eggs
Foods rich in vitamin D such as oily fish, shellfish, egg yolk and
mushrooms. Vitamin D is thought to have a key role in improving
immune tolerance by enhancing the production of immune
protecting cells. Emerging evidence suggests that this vitamin has
anti-corona virus properties.
Eat as wide a range of antioxidants as possible, in the form of
fresh, brightly colored fruits and vegetables including some raw.
In particular the following foods enrich your diet:
Apples, onions, garlic, berries, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage,
Why Your Immune System Needs Boosting:
Your immune system fights off viruses and bacteria that can cause
Your immune system determines how fast you age.
Your immune system empties your body’s dustbin every day
getting rid of dead cells, dead invaders and toxic chemicals.
Left to deteriorate your immune system could lose control and
cause allergy problems or autoimmune disease like arthritis.
With a struggling immune system you are ill more often, more
seriously and for longer.
With a strong immune system you are almost invincible and should
be able to lead a long, healthy and active life.
Think of your immune system as your own personal medical team,
skilled in the art of healing, always on call, and always there to take
preventative measures to avert a battle. Whether you are trying to
prevent or cure an illness your immune system is your main line of
defense. It is worth looking after it so that it can serve reliably, allowing
you to enjoy a happy, healthy life.
Recipe below for vegetable soup containing multiple immune boosting
Pass on if you enjoy it.
Complete this questionnaire to find out if your immune system
needs a boost:
Do you get more than 3 colds a year?
Do you usually get a stomach bug each year?
Do you find it hard to shift and infection (cold or otherwise)?
Are you prone to thrush or cystitis?
Do you generally take at least 1 course of antibiotics each year?
Have you had a major personal loss in the last year?
Is there any history of cancer in your family?
Have you ever had any growths or lumps biopsied?
Do the glands in your neck, armpits or groin feel tender?
Do you suffer from allergy problems
Do you react to insect bites with excessive swelling and redness?
Do you have an inflammatory disease such as eczema, asthma or
Do you suffer from hay fever?
Do you often have a stuffy or runny nose?
Do you have an autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis
If you answer yes to 7 or more questions you need to boost your
If you answer yes to 4 and 7 questions you are beginning to show
signs of low immunity and need to boost it.
If you answer yes to less than 4 questions you are unlikely to have
a problem with your immune system.
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 sticks of celery
1 large onions
2 cloves of garlic
1 small green chilli (deseeded and finely chopped) optional
1.5 ltrs veg stock
1 Can coconut milk
½ tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander (optional)
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Peel and chop all vegetables.
Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add onion, garlic and chilli and fry gently until soft.
Add the remaining vegetables and stock. Cover and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat
and simmer for 30 minutes.
Stir in the turmeric, ginger coriander, coconut milk and pepper to taste. Process until
smooth adding more stock or water if necessary.
Freeze in small portions.