5 Immune Boosting Nutrients
When it comes to being the best version of yourself, getting all the nutrients you need will give you a health-boosting head start. Eating well tops up your body’s tool box, ensuring it has all it needs to repair any damage before it’s too late!
On the other hand, dietary deficiencies can leave you defenceless against bothersome bugs. Here’s our personal pick of the top five nutrients to boost your immune system and promote Optimal wellness.
Perhaps the best-known group of nutrients for fighting illness, antioxidants directly support immune system activity. They work to protect cells from free radicals – compounds which create oxidative stress and damage cells.
The clue is in the name – antioxidants are, well, anti-oxidant – and oxidative stress is, you guessed it, stressful! A diet high in antioxidants can reduce levels of inflammation and protect cells from damage. High antioxidant intake has been shown to improve immune response and activate certain immune cells
Find me in: Fruits and vegetables are the best sources. As a rule of thumb, follow the colours of the rainbow to find your antioxidant pot of gold! Choose veggies with a low carbohydrate content such as broccoli, asparagus, spinach, mushrooms and cauliflower, and fruits which aren’t packed with sugar – such as avocado, berries, watermelon and citrus fruits.
Our immune system is made up of many different types of cells and most of these rely on Vitamin C to carry out their function. White blood cells soak up Vit C and use it to destroy toxins, decrease inflammation and fight against viruses and bacteria.
And if you’re not convinced of Vit C’s superhero status yet, wait until you hear how it ups levels of interferon – an antibody that wraps around cells like a cape, preventing viruses from entering!
As Vitamin C is water-soluble, it’s readily excreted – meaning it can’t be produced or stored by the body. So it’s important to top up stocks every day to avoid deficiency. Luckily, many foods are full to the brim of Vit C, and so deficiency is relatively rare.
Find me in: Vitamin C is found in many foods but citrus fruits provide the highest dose. Green peppers, strawberries and pineapple are also good sources.
Interestingly there are studies that have shown that glucose from sugars and high carbohydrate foods actually compete with the Vitamin C pathway meaning it is more difficult for you to utilise the Vitamin C. This is another reason why we believe in no sugars or grains in our products.
Healthy fats are vital for absorbing fat-soluble vitamins – such as A, D, E and K. These are all dissolved in fats or oils before being soaked up in the bloodstream. Eating them with a source of fat will encourage better absorption, which in turn boosts the immune system through each vitamin’s functions.
Essential fatty acids (EFAs) also have a more direct effect on the immune system. In fact, they’re termed ‘essential’ because your body cannot make them, so you need enough from your diet or you’ll get sick. EFAs such as Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids work to reduce inflammation, which is the root cause of many modern diseases.
Remember, fat is a macronutrient – which means you need it in bigger amounts than micronutrients. Trouble is, certain fats such as trans fats and those found in poor quality oils like veg oil, are bad for us. Make sure you get your dose of fats from the foods below to ensure they’re good for you.
Find me in: Avocados, avocado oil, coconuts, seeds (but not seed oils), nuts, nut butter, olive oil, tofu, dark chocolate, oily fish, free-range meat and eggs.
Vitamin A is known for its role in maintaining good vision and supporting the reproductive system. But we now know that its functions in the immune system are just as important.
Being deficient in Vit A makes you more susceptible to infection. It has even been linked with higher chances of dying due to infection – scary right?
Scientists have found that Vit A regulates ‘T-cells’- a type of cell that helps the immune system destroy infected cells and pathogens. Without getting too science-y, Vit A supports your body’s own defences to protect from infection and viruses which make us ill.
Find me in: Yellow, orange and red foods – beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment that’s acts as a precursor for vitamin A, so many foods which are this colour will help you reach your Vit A requirements – guava, melon, sweet potatoes, mango, grapefruit, bell peppers and apricots.
Animal-based foods also contain the active form of Vitamin A (retinol), the best sources are cheese, butter, fish and red meat.
Last but not least, our final immune-boosting super nutrient is Vitamin D. Arguably the most important vitamin of them all, Vit D is vital for calcium metabolism and promoting bone health. It also pulls its weight as chief protector of the immune system.
Not getting enough Vit D has been linked with autoimmune disease – conditions which stem from the body’s immune system attacking its own healthy cells in error. But when there is enough Vit D, immune cells respond better to pathogens and target them more effectively – reducing the likelihood of autoimmune disease.
Getting enough vit D is challenging – relatively few foods contain it and during the winter months we can’t rely on our body’s natural ability to convert sunlight to vitamin D (link to blog 010 post – Vitamin D). That’s why most people should take a supplement to top up their intake, especially from September through to March.
You will find some Vit D in the foods below, but you’d have to eat a heck of a lot to meet your requirements!
Find me in: Oily fish, cheese, egg yolks, liver and mushrooms. Or invest in a daily supplement for convenience and reliability – make sure it’s D3 – the active form of Vit D which is more easily absorbed.
A diet rich in fruit, vegetables and healthy fats will provide most of these immune-boosting nutrients. If you’re a fussy-foodie or struggle to get your five-a-day, taking a multivitamin and mineral supplement will help you to prevent poorliness and recover rapidly during the winter months.
Did you know that our Extra Virgin Avocado Oil is a great source of Vitamins A & C, and contains a whopping dose of healthy fats and antioxidants?
What’s more, we also use avocado oil to make our Avocado Oil Mayonnaise alongside British free-range egg yolk – for a double-whammy of healthy fats and antioxidants.
So get drizzling, sizzling, dolloping and dunking for a delicious dose of immune-boosting nutrients!
All information provided on our website and within our articles is simply information, opinion, anecdotal thoughts and experiences to provide you with the tools to thrive.
It is not intended to treat or diagnose symptoms and is definitely not intended to be misconstrued for medical advice. We always advise you seek the advice of a trained professional when implementing any changes to your lifestyle and dietary habits.
We do however recommend seeking the services of a trained professional who questions the conventional wisdom to enable you to become the best version of yourself.