How To Boost Your Immune System Through Nutrition

Thanks in great part to the COVID-19 pandemic, maintaining and managing our health is more critical than ever. That’s why it’s important to be sure that your preparedness plan includes bonafide healthy eating habits. Statistics clearly demonstrate that those most vulnerable to serious health complications from COVID-19 are those with underlying inflammatory issues. Infection with Coronavirus is sure to increase inflammation so you want to prepare your body by minimizing causes of  inflammation during the pandemic.

Inflammation is a natural process that takes place when our immune system recognizes anything that is foreign—such as an invading microbe, plant pollen, or chemical. This process is necessary to protect us from viruses, bacteria, and parasites; however, sometimes inflammation persists longer and becomes the enemy. Both influenza and coronavirus cause an inflammatory storm in the lungs and it is this that leads to acute respiratory distress, organ failure, and death.

A low-inflammatory diet is the first step towards integral health. Inflammatory processes are necessary for our immune system to fight infections; however, the problem starts when these processes get out of control. Think of inflammation as a bucket and the objective is not to increase your inflammatory load with foods, but reduce it. To simplify, there are 2 categories of food to consider: pro-inflammatory (avoid) or anti-inflammatory (increase). Pro-inflammatory foods increase your toxic load that in turn increases inflammation. Anti-inflammatory foods help reduce toxic load or provide micro and macro nutrients to help reduce toxic load. In this way, if you do find yourself faced with illness, your body’s focus is fighting the infection not supporting ongoing chronic inflammation that may be coming in through foods.

 

What To Eat: Low Inflammatory Diet

This lifestyle is about providing nutrients through whole foods along with micronutrients that help the body reduce chemicals that can cause inflammation.

Nutrient and fiber-rich vegetables – asparagus, beets with greens, broccoli, kale, chards, collard greens, mustard greens, dandelion greens, radishes, artichokes, arugula, endive, chicory, turnips, squash, okra, fennel, cabbage, brussel sprouts.

Herbs – parsley, basil, cilantro, dill, rosemary, thyme, oregano, cumin seed, turmeric root, cloves, fenugreek seed, ginger, burdock root, onion, garlic.

Fats from whole foods that contain unsaturated or omega-3 rich fatty acids – nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds, hazelnuts), seeds (squash, sunflower, flax, sesame), fish (fatty fish like sardines, cod, salmon, herring, anchovies), as well as avocado, coconut, olives.

Foods naturally rich in color are rich in polyphenols, flavonoids, anthocyanin, and micronutrients (like Vitamin C and E) that are good antioxidants. Some examples include turmeric, purple cabbage, green dandelion, red onion, oranges, berries, turnips, rutabaga, radishes, bell peppers, cherries, avocado, green tea. Think rainbow: get all the colors in, and think about variety. Fresh and raw retains these great food properties. Aging and cooking degrade some of the anti-inflammatory chemicals.

Various plant-derived compounds with anti-inflammatory properties exert their effects through the modulation of the cytokine system. Cytokines represent a group of multifunctional substances that are involved in many steps of the inflammatory response. Here are some foods that help with balancing and managing cytokines:

Resevratrol sources – grapes, Japanese Knotweed, blueberries, cranberries, dark chocolate.

 

Micronutrients: Play a key role in supporting the human immune system

  • Vitamin D – Most of our vitamin D comes from sun exposure. We can also find some of our vitamin D in foods like fatty fish, eggs, dairy and mushrooms.
  • Vitamin A – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant – a variety of fruit and vegetables, such as sweet potato, butternut squash, carrot or spinach, broccoli, cantaloupe. Spirulina and meat are also a good source.
  • Vitamin E – Antioxidant- wheat germ oil, sunflower seed, almonds, nuts & seeds in general, mango, turnip greens.
  • Foods rich in Vitamin C – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant – radishes, broccoli, kale, cabbage, cherries, citrus fruits, rose hips, hibiscus, kiwi, strawberries.
  • Vitamin B6 – Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant – salmon, tofu, sweet potatoes, bananas, avocado, pistachio.
  • Vitamin B12 – Meat, fish, dairy products, eggs, yeast, spirulina, if vegan, supplements are needed.
  • Vitamin B9 (folate) – Dark green leafy vegetables (turnip greens, spinach, romaine lettuce, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, broccoli), beans, peanuts, Sunflower seeds, fruits, whole grains, liver, seafood.
  • Zinc is an essential mineral that boosts immune system response by building T-lymphocyte cells, which protect the body from infection. Zinc can be found in a range of plant-based foods, including legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains and vegetables such as potatoes, kale and green beans. It can also be taken in supplement form.
  • Copper – spirulina, dark green leafy, meat
  • Selenium – Brazil nuts, whole grain, meat, bananas, eggs, seeds, nuts, dairy
  • Iron – spirulina, dark green leafy, beans, meat

If you are an active Vitagene customer, please reference your profile to see which nutrients are most relevant to your unique goals and lifestyle factors. Click here to view your profile

 

Fiber & your microbiota optimize your immune system

Indigestible (by human cells) fiber is the main food for your microbiota, referred to as prebiotic. A healthy microbiota helps your immune system fight infection.

Great prebiotic foods: fennel, asparagus, artichoke, kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chards, dandelion greens, carrot, parsnips, beetroot and leaves, arugula, chicory, endive, rhubarb, celery, rutabaga, broccoli, garlic, onion, tiger nuts, bananas.

Think whole grains when adding satiety to your foods like oat groats, buckwheat groats, wild rice, quinoa, teth, millet.

Whole beans and lentils – don’t ferment the legumes and if possible cook from the dry bean and avoid the can.

Probiotic: to encourage our microbes to ferment the fiber, choose probiotic sources that “train” microbes on fiber fermentation such as sauerkraut, kimchi (with no added sugars), beet kvass, or any vegetable/herb fermentation that does not add sugar. Avoid Kombucha with added refined sugars.

A variety of whole foods in your diet helps you obtain all the wonderful properties of foods.

Herbs: Astragalus membranaceous is a common traditional Chinese medicinal plant widely used as a tonic to enhance the body’s natural defense mechanisms.

Things to Avoid: The easiest and all encompassing statement is to avoid commercial processed foods as much as possible. Particularly processed foods high in refined sugars, saturated fat, processed meats, refined carbohydrates (breads, crackers, pre-packaged snack foods, pastas), cheese, and protein powders. Alcohol also increases inflammation.

 

Two Beverages You NEED to Try 🙂

High Fiber and Health Gut Smoothie for Two!

Makes two servings:

Fiber, Fiber, Fiber

3 tbsp pumpkin seeds

3 tbsp flax seeds

3 tbsp walnuts

3 Brazil nuts

4 leaves of dandelion greens

6 leaves of kale

1/2 apple

4 square chunks of melon

1/3 cup of fennel

1/2 inch slice of ginger root

1/2 inch slice of turmeric root

1/4 beetroot with 1 beet leaf

 

Warm Shot to Boost Your Immune System

Makes two servings:

Boil some water, about 2 espresso cups. Grind 2 thumbs of ginger. Add the hot water on the ginger with 1 teaspoon of turmeric. Press 1-2 lemons depending on the size. Add 1 teaspoon of Spirulina. Mix and drink !

 

Reference:

Calder, Philip C.« Nutrition, Immunity and COVID-19 ». BMJ Nutrition, Prevention & Health, vol. 3, no 1, juin 2020. nutrition.bmj.com, doi:10.1136/bmjnph-2020-000085.

Publishing, Harvard Health. « Foods that fight inflammation ». Harvard Health

Lee, Hansongyi, et al. « Obesity, Inflammation and Diet ». Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition, vol. 16, no 3, septembre 2013, p. 143‑52. PubMed Central, doi:10.5223/pghn.2013.16.3.143.

Cho, William Chi Shing, et Kwok Nam Leung. « In Vitro and in Vivo Immunomodulating and Immunorestorative Effects of Astragalus Membranaceus ». Journal of Ethnopharmacology, vol. 113, no 1, août 2007, p. 132‑41. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.jep.2007.05.020.

Erowele, Goldina Ikezuagu, et Abolanle O. Kalejaiye. « Pharmacology and therapeutic uses of cat’s claw ». American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, vol. 66, no 11, juin 2009, p. 992‑95. Silverchair, doi:10.2146/ajhp080443.

Wu, Qinghua, et al. « The Antioxidant, Immunomodulatory, and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Spirulina: An Overview ». Archives of Toxicology, vol. 90, no 8, août 2016, p. 1817‑40. Springer Link, doi:10.1007/s00204-016-1744-5.

Carr, Anitra C., et Silvia Maggini. « Vitamin C and Immune Function ». Nutrients, vol. 9, no 11, novembre 2017. PubMed, doi:10.3390/nu9111211.

Jiménez, Eugenia, et al. « Exploring Diversity and Biotechnological Potential of Lactic Acid Bacteria from Tocosh – Traditional Peruvian Fermented Potatoes – by High Throughput Sequencing (HTS) and Culturing ». LWT, vol. 87, janvier 2018, p. 567‑74. ScienceDirect, doi:10.1016/j.lwt.2017.09.033.

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