Even though the weather is starting to heat up and summer is around the corner, building a healthy and strong immune system is still important.
The better our health and stronger our immune system, the more resilient we are at fighting infections.
The key to a healthy immune system is through good gut health as around 80 per cent of our immune system lies in the gut, so it’s critical that our gut is in good shape.
Key foods to building a strong immune system
Probiotics: A large part of our immune health depends on the presence of many probiotics in our gut. These bacteria have been found to be anti-carcinogenic, aid in digestion, defend against pathogens, remove toxins from the body and improve immune function. Sources of probiotics include yogurt with live cultures, Chobani plain Greek yogurt is an excellent choice, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi and good quality probiotic supplements.
Fibre: Fibre can be found in fruits, vegetables and in whole grain choices like whole grain bread, quinoa, brown or basmati rice. Fibre is a key nutrient because it’s important for gut and digestive health. It helps fuel colon cells and helps to keep the digestive tract flowing by keeping bowel movements soft and regular.
Fresh vegetables and fruit: Vegetables and fruit provide antioxidants, vitamins and minerals that are key for our immunity. Antioxidants support the immune system by reducing inflammation and help to reduce damage caused. Other sources of antioxidants include pecans, walnuts, turmeric, ginger, basil, raw cacao and green tea.
Key vitamins and minerals for immunity include vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, B vitamins, zinc, iron and omega 3 essential fatty acids. These can be found in variety of fruits and vegetables, whereas other sources of these nutrients can be found in other food types such as nuts, certain protein choices, like red meat / fish.
Overall to ensure you are consuming these nutrients aim to have variety in your diet, and choose fresh, local choices. Choose ones with limited added ingredients and from the least processed source available.
Candace Sciberras is a Dietitian at OnePoint Health in Penrith. Candace graduated from the University of Wyoming, America with a degree in Human Nutrition and Food. She later went on to do her dietetic internship in Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a member of the Dietetic Association Australia and holds her APD along with a Level 1 Anthropemetrist accreditation with ISAK.