Boosting your immune system has never been so important and an effective yet simple way to do so is actually through the foods you consume, as 80% of your immune system is located in your gut. There are three key vitamins that can bolster the immune system, which we can access with minimal effort through certain foods. We interviewed Kriben Govender, Food Scientist, Registered Nutritionist, and Founder of NourishMe Organics, who shared his expert insight into simple ways we can all boost our immune systems including some easy homemade remedies. Keep reading to learn more just in time for allergy season!
The Foods You Need to Eat to Boost Your Immune Health
Oysters are rich in zinc, which is commonly known to suppress viruses, and they are also high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which help promote the general wellbeing of your gut where the majority of your immune system sits.
2) Fermented Veggies
A recent study showed that l-Plantarum, a probiotic found in fermented vegetables, has an antiviral effect against Influenza A. The process of fermentation can also help to increase the bioavailability of some nutrients, which helps the body to absorb more vitamins and minerals. Fermented foods are also rich in vitamin B and vitamin K, which are vital to a healthy immune system. You can simply ferment veg at home with little equipment and effort, and this will ensure that you will reap the rewards of all the nutrients, as they will be fresh.
3) Drink Kefir
Traditional milk kefir has over three times the amount of probiotics that yogurt has, and is filled with vitamin B and vitamin K vitamin, which are vital to a healthy immune system. As well as being a natural immune booster, Scientific research demonstrates six major health benefits from drinking traditional milk kefir. You can experience a healthier heart and cardiovascular system, decreased inflammation and faster healing, improved digestion and better gut health, faster metabolism and easier weight loss, enhanced brain function, antimicrobial activity, lower blood sugar, and appetite suppression. One of the best things about milk kefir is that it’s simple and inexpensive to make at home, and homemade kefir actually retains significantly more of its health benefits than any store-bought kefir.
4) Fiber-Rich Food
It’s important to eat a wide variety of dietary fibers. Different fibers work in different ways and they each provide their own health benefits. Eating a variety of fiber, including resistant starch can help to improve gut health and provide that vital support for our immune systems. Don’t eat the same thing over and over again. Try to pick something new each week. Some good sources of resistant starch include wholegrain cereals, starchy vegetables, lentils, chickpeas, baked beans, red kidney beans, nuts, and firm bananas.
What Vitamins These Foods Are Rich In
1) Vitamin C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that optimizes the whole immune system and the Mitochondria, which are the ‘batteries’ that power the cells in our body. A great source of vitamin C is paprika, as well as berries, lemons, limes, and citrus fruits. The Kakadu plum, native to Australia, and the Camu Camu fruit have one of the highest concentrations of vitamin C. Fermented cabbage, otherwise known as Sauerkraut, is also loaded with vitamin C and easily made at home with minimal additional ingredients/ tools.
2) Vitamin A
Vitamin A strengthens the lining of the tube systems within your body, such as the gut lining and the lungs, to ensure they can work effectively and support the immune system. Cod liver oil, beef liver, sheep liver, and carrots are all rich sources of vitamin A.
3) Vitamin D
A recent study showed that a higher level of humidity and sunlight decreased the transmission of influenza. Another study also revealed that vitamin D deficiency could affect the microbiome and immune system. The easiest way to get your daily dose of vitamin D is through exposure to sunlight. This doesn’t mean baking yourself for hours in the sun, it just means exposure for a few minutes a day, usually in the middle of the day. Try going for a 10-minute walk at lunchtime. The time of day, time of year, and angle of the sun can all affect how much vitamin D you can access from the sun at any one time. The useful app D Minder provides a rough approximation of how much vitamin D you can gain from the sunlight throughout the day. It also offers prompts on when you will get the best access to vitamin D from the sunlight.
Other Ways to Boost Your Immune Health
1) Get Enough Sleep
When we sleep, our body rests, repairs, and regenerates. It’s an essential time for our body to heal and fight off disease.
Exercise puts added pressure on the mitochondria to create energy. If you’re worried about immune function, engage in just moderate to light forms of exercise to lower the possible stress on the mitochondria and immune system.