Q: What is the best way to boost my immune system?
The immune system is a very complicated system of the body. Immune function is depleted by various factors including poor sleep, stress, nutrient deficiency and leading a sedentary lifestyle. On the flip side, immune function can also be depleted by excessive exercise. Therefore, the first step should be to ensure that general wellbeing is supported by focussing on quality sleep, relaxation and stress management as a priority.
70% of our immune system is in fact found within our gut, in something referred to as ‘gut associated lymphoid tissue’ (GALT). The GALT is strongly influenced by our microbiome (the bacteria residing in our digestive system). Therefore, supporting the health of the gut and the microbiome can directly influence our immune health.
Healthy digestive function can be supported by:
ensuring sufficient fibre is eaten with 6-8 portions of vegetables and 1-2 portions of fruit being consumed daily
eating prebiotic foods such as baked apples, chicory and artichoke (prebiotics are a type of dietary fibre which feed the beneficial bacteria in the gut)
eating fermented foods such as kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi to support gut flora
increasing foods that support liver function such as brassicas (e.g. broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, kale and Brussels sprouts), onions, garlic, rocket and watercress
taking a multi-strain live bacteria (probiotic) supplement
Additionally, many nutrients play an essential role in immune function, therefore ensuring there is optimum intake of all nutrients by supplementing with a multi vitamin and mineral can be useful. Nutrients of particular importance for supporting the health and function of your immune system include: