Supporting Your Immune System With Nutrition This Winter
A bit of myth busting...
Our immune system fights off unwanted pathogens, bacterias and viruses. The normal functioning of our immune system should be supported - you don’t actually want to “boost” your immune system, as a healthy immune system should be balanced. Too much of an immune response is not desirable as this is what causes allergic reactions and autoimmunity. The same goes for an under-functioning immune system that doesn't have the support to do its important job of protecting you!
Did you know your gut houses 70% of your immune system? So if you want to take care of your immune system - you need to take care of your gut with nutrition!
Nutrition Tips for Supporting Your Immune System this winter
- Enjoy at least one source of probiotic rich foods per day to nourish your gut microbiome. Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that reside in the gut. Probiotics support our immune system, aid digestion and assist with nutrient absorption. Fermented foods naturally contain probiotics like yoghurt, sourdough, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, tempeh and kim chi. Some great natural sources of prebiotics include garlic, onions, leeks, apples, asparagus, and less-ripe banana.
- Reduce sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates as these can all weaken your immune response. Having high blood sugar can inhibit the response of immune cells that help protect against infection.
- Eat warming foods. Winter is the time to swap your morning protein smoothie for protein oats. Core body temperature has its role in immune health too - studies show that bacteria and viruses find it easier to survive once body temperature drops below 37 degrees. Check out our cozy banana cinnamon overnight oats here! It's the perfect warming breakfast for a winter's morning. Plus, it's vegan, dairy-free & packed with protein!
- Add herbs and spices to your food - think garlic, ginger, turmeric and fresh herbs like thyme, rosemary & lemongrass. Herbs and spices contain antioxidants which help support a healthy immune system as well as antibacterial and antiseptic healing properties.
- A decent daily supply of protein is required for a healthy functioning immune system as protein is required to build immune cells. To easily meet your protein requirements aim for one serving of protein with each meal (chicken, meat, fish, eggs, tofu, tempeh etc.), and then 1-2 protein rich snacks (boiled eggs, peanut butter, hummus, cheese, protein shake, yoghurt). With 18g per serve, our THRIVE Plant Protein is a great addition to your diet to help meet your daily protein intake.
Another important tip: Rest when needed. This one is so important! If you feel a cold or flu coming on, this should be a sign to rest and take it easy, so your body has a chance to recover and avoid a sniffle from developing into something more serious.
Immune supporting foods to eat during winter
Papaya are rich in beta-carotene, which is an antioxidant known to support immune health. Plus, papaya is also very rich in vitamin C, which we all know to support our immune system! The perfect immune supporting snack would be ½ papaya with the seeds scooped out, filled with yoghurt and topped with hemp seeds and peanut butter.
Bone broth provides essential amino acids and minerals which are beneficial to gut health and support the immune system. Perfect to sip on a cup of broth to warm the system or add to nourishing winter soups.