DIET TIPS FOR A STRONG IMMUNE SYSTEM
Today, We’re talking about Diet Tips for a Strong Immune System
Welcome Back FitSquad.
There is an Ayurvedic Proverb, “When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use.
When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.”
Let’s admit it.
Most of us are familiar, with the feelings of fatigue, bloating or sugar highs and lows after a junk food meal.
But how does diet affect our immunity?
Poor diet deprives us of essential vitamins and minerals thereby compromising the immune system…
It also limits our ability to fight foreign invaders like pathogenic bacteria and viruses or heal from injury and infection.
According to scientists, good nutrition is the most important factor in supporting immune health.
So how can we influence our resistance to disease with diet?
Well, it all begins in the gut.
You see, there is little point in discussing how to enhance immunity with nutrition without first addressing what we need to eliminate from our diets to optimize the absorption of nutrients required for a strong immune system.
Our gut is said to be the foundation of our whole body’s health.
In fact, research suggests that the gut makes up 75-80% of the immune system.
And scientists have shown that our gut microbes (microbiome) and cells in the gut can communicate with immune cells throughout the body.
An unhealthy microbiome can in turn negatively influence our entire immune system leading to chronic inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disease.
Once the gut barrier, a fundamental player in immunity, is compromised, toxins, bacteria, and unwanted proteins find their way through the gut barrier and into the bloodstream.
And as you can imagine, this has a hugely negative impact on our immunity and ultimately our overall health.
So what can you do?
Well, you can start by…
ELIMINATING FOOD THAT HARMS YOU
A Western diet, high in nutrient deficient and heavily processed food has a negative effect on our overall health.
These foods contain excess sugar and inflammatory oils, and along with alcohol, they’re referred to as “empty calories.”
That’s because they contain energy but no nutritional value.
Aside from being deficient in nutrients, they damage our gut lining leading to decreased absorption of essential macronutrients compromising our immunity.
And that’s not all.
Animal studies have shown that many widely used artificial sweeteners increase the number of bacterial strains linked with metabolic syndrome.
A condition that includes an increase in belly fat and cardiovascular problems.
To facilitate the processing and to help optimize absorption of nutrients from the food we eat, it’s important to have a healthy gut lining, and a balanced microbiome.
To do that…you’ll want to eliminate…
- Carbonated drinks – soda’s but also sweetened juices
- Refined sugar – this includes sweets and desserts
- Additives – chemical additives such as preservatives and colorants.
- Processed food – includes cereals, processed meats, and cheeses
- Excess alcohol
- And antibiotics
Antibiotics indiscriminately kill bacteria, eliminating the good along with the bad.
And while it is necessary to take antibiotics at times, most people will agree that they’re way overused.
Talk to your doctor about alternatives.
- HEAL – EAT FOODS THAT HEAL
Once having eliminated the substances that cause harm, we need to turn our focus to foods that heal and foods that boost immune system.
And one of the best is bone broth.
Bone broth is easily digested and soothing to the digestive system.
Bone broth is an aromatic broth made by simmering animal bones including beef, poultry, or fish bones, (preferably roasted) along with an acid such as vinegar to draw out the minerals from the bones.
Fresh vegetables and herbs are added for more flavor.
This preparation is then simmered for approximately 24 hours, resulting in a nutritious broth loaded with minerals and gelatin.
Amino acids found in gelatin effectively support intestinal health and integrity and aid in the healing of leaky gut, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.
The gelatin in bone broth helps boost one of the body’s most powerful antioxidants, glutathione.
Glutathione helps the liver flush out excess chemicals and waste.
And because bone broth can increase beneficial gut bacteria, genes that control inflammation are upregulated and those that increase inflammation or have other adverse effects are downregulated.
You can also increase your intake of…
FERMENTED FOODS AND PROBIOTICS
A diverse microbiota is generally a healthy one.
That’s because the more species of bacteria you have, the greater number of health benefits they may be able to contribute to.
Enter fermented foods.
The process of microorganisms like your gut bacteria breaking down the components in food is called fermentation.
Kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, are a few examples.
Fermented foods are all the rage although they have been part of the human diet for centuries.
Initially produced to preserve foods, Fermented foods are now associated with all kinds of health benefits including a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity, foods that boost immune system.
And as a bonus, lots of fermented foods contain probiotics because they naturally occur in the food.
For example, Lactobacilli, a beneficial probiotic strain, is commonly found in yogurt and naturally lives on the surface of some foods such as vegetables and fruit.
Be careful though…
Not all fermented foods are created equal.
The jars of pickles you find in the supermarkets are usually pickled with vinegar and not through a natural fermentation process.
Check the label for the words “naturally fermented” to ensure you are buying the real deal.
And for those who do not have time or access to fermented foods, there are certainly benefits to taking a probiotic supplement.
Just keep in mind that a healthy gut microbiome is not just one type of bacteria.
There are many types of bacteria.
And a probiotic supplement should reflect that.
You should also feed the microbiome with fiber also known as prebiotics.
Prebiotics are foods that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Fiber that we find in complex carbohydrates cannot be digested by human cells.
Instead this non-digestible food is digested and converted by the gut bacteria to short-chain fatty acids (SCFA’s), which are used as fuel for the microbiota and to increase their numbers.
Lots of fruit and vegetables contain prebiotics and if you are eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables you should be able to get more than enough prebiotic fiber from your diet.
And once you’ve refreshed your gut microbiome…
It’s time to optimize your diet by eating nutrient dense “real” food.
Real food is food that is close to its natural and original state without any alteration of any kind.
In other words, unprocessed single ingredient whole food, free of chemical additives.
Nutrient density is identified by looking at the foods containing the highest amount and number of essential nutrients while still being lowest in calories.
Let’s take a closer look starting with…
Micronutrients, comprising vitamins and minerals, are one of the major groups of nutrients our body’s need.
General recommendations are that we consume a large variety of fruit and vegetables to obtain all the vitamins we need for good health.
And while pretty much every vitamin and mineral is necessary for optimal immune function.
There are a few that stand out.
VITAMIN A IS ONE OF THEM…
Vitamin A is crucial for protecting the integrity of the skin and membranes.
It’s also involved in the development of the immune system and plays regulatory roles in cellular immune responses.
You can boost your intake of vitamin A by eating beef liver, carrots, cabbage, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, apricots, papayas.
B vitamins are also key to a healthy immune system.
Specifically, vitamin B6, B9, and B12
B6 (PYRIDOXINE) Assists in controlling allergic reactions.
It’s also essential for the absorption of B12 and to make red blood cells and cells of the immune system.
You can boost B6 levels by eating wheat germ, cauliflower, cabbage, red kidney beans, peppers, broccoli, lentils and eggs.
B9 or Folic acid also plays a role in immunity enhancement. It’s needed for the formation of red blood cells.
You’ll also find B6 in wheat germ as well as spinach, broccoli, lentils, asparagus, and avocados.
B12 – aids in the metabolism of every cell of the human body.
It is crucial for the synthesis of B-cell and T-cell which are major components of our immune response.
TOP FOODS for B12 include sardines, tuna, oysters’ eggs, cheese, turkey, and chicken
Another key immune vitamin is…
VITAMIN C…vitamin c boosts up human immunity towards infections and cold illnesses by increasing phagocytosis, a function whereby pathogens are ingested and destroyed.
Peppers, cabbage, broccoli, strawberries, lemons, kiwi fruit, melons, and oranges are all high in vitamin c.
Increasing your intake of vitamin D can also give your immune system a big boost.
Low levels of vitamin D have been associated with an increase in infection rates as well as increased death rates due to cancers, heart diseases, and other microbial infections.
Herrings, mackerel, salmon, sardines, cottage cheese and eggs are all good sources of vitamin D.
Getting plenty of sunlight is a great way to increase vitamin D.
That’s why we always recommend exercising outside when you can.
Vitamin E also plays an important role in enhancing the immune response.
It maximizes the action of macrophages (the white blood cells responsible for destroying pathogens.)
And you can boost your intake of vitamin E by eating wheat germ, sardines, tuna, salmon, seed foods, beans, peanuts.
There are also a few key minerals that have beens shown to boost immunity.
Iron – which is necessary to produce lymphocytes, one of the body’s main immune cells.
Heme iron, from animal products is more readily absorbed by the body although other forms of iron are also available in legumes and vegetables.
Good sources of iron include, lamb liver, lamb kidney, beef liver, pork, pumpkin seeds, cooked dried beans and nuts.
ZINC is another key mineral and it assists in balancing the immune response by preventing an over-response of immune cells to infection resulting in excessive inflammation.
High levels of Zinc can be found in oysters, ginger root, lamb, egg yolks, haddock, pecan nuts, dry split peas, turnips, and oats.
SELENIUM is another one…
Selenium helps to regulate excessive immune responses and chronic inflammation.
Research also suggests that it plays a role in slowing the body’s overactive response to certain forms of cancer.
TOP FOODS for selenium include tuna, oysters, molasses, herrings, beef liver, courgettes, chicken, cabbage and mushrooms.
Our final immune boosting mineral is MAGNESIUM.
Magnesium is Involved in more than 300 chemical reactions in the body and helps to enhance and regulate the immune system in multiple ways.
You can crank up your magnesium levels by eating green leafy vegetables, wheat germ, buckwheat, nuts, seafood, and legumes.
Another great way to enhance your immunity through your diet is by eating what’s called THE RAINBOW.
You see, the best way to enhance immunity is by eating a wide variety of whole foods.
That’s the best way to ensure an adequate intake of vitamins and minerals for a healthy immune system.
And this is exactly what “eat a rainbow “refers to.
That’s because colorful fruit and vegetables contain phytonutrients and antioxidants.
Phytonutrients are chemicals produced by plants.
And foods with phytonutrients have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Which means they contain antioxidants.
Antioxidants are substances that protect our cells against free radicals.
And free radicals are unstable molecules produced when we are exposed to pollutants, additives, preservatives and other harmful substances.
Free radicals cause damage to cells in the body contributing to heart disease, cancer, cognitive decline, and other diseases.
“Eating a rainbow” ensures we get a wide range of beneficial phytonutrients.
Different colored foods have different health benefits.
So, while individual components have health benefits, eating a variety is optimal.
And if you’re not sure what I mean by “eating a rainbow” …
Here are five of the colors of phytonutrients and some of the functions associated with each.
Red foods contain lycopene, ellagic acid and quercetin.
Good sources include tomatoes, beets, cherries, apples, grapefruit, and watermelon.
These foods have been shown to offer protection against heart disease and cancer.
Yellow and Orange foods contain alpha-carotene, beta carotene, lutein, and hesperidin.
Good sources include pumpkin, carrots, sweet corn, papaya, peaches.
This color category has been associated with good eye health.
They absorb potentially oxidative blue light and blue light has damaging effects on the macula of the eye.
Purple foods contain resveratrol, flavonoids and phenolics
Plumbs, eggplant, purple carrots, blueberries, and blackberries are all good choices.
Purple foods are associated with better cardiovascular health, a reduction in obesity, anti-carcinogenic properties, decreased oxidative stress, and reduced inflammation.
Green foods contain Glucosinolates, lutein, isoflavones and flavonoids.
Broccoli, cabbage, kale, spinach, avocado and kiwi are good examples.
Green foods are thought to decrease the risk of developing chronic disease.
And they support liver function, cell function, and eye health.
Finally White foods contain quercetin, indoles, and glucosinolates.
Examples of white foods include onions, garlic, parsnips, cauliflower, and mushrooms.
White foods have been shown to potentially reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.
They also support healthy bones and circulation.
Good stuff right?
And if you’ve been following us here at LIFE RENU, then you know that we take a very scientific and results-driven approach to nutrition, supplementation, and exercise.
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It’s a powerful, multi-dimensional gut health approach and you’re going to love it.
Until then, if you have any questions you feel weren’t answered in this video, please drop us a comment and we’ll get right back to you.
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