5 Nutrients that boost your Immune System (and what to eat to get them!)
Updated: Feb 22
Hey everyone, I'm Nanci, resident nutritionist here at Fine Form Physio. With a spotlight on boosting our immune systems at this time of year, I'd like to share with you some simple ways you can increase your body's ability to fight off the bugs through the food you eat!
Vitamin C contributes to our immune function in more ways than one- but an interesting immune supporting function of Vit C that may surprise you is that it supports the skins immune barrier system.
It's also a strong player in respiratory (nose, throat and lung) health, as it acts as a natural antihistamine.
We are now becoming more and more aware of the link between stress and lowered immune response. Vitamin C is used to make cortisol, our stress hormone. The more stressed we are, whether it be physically or mentally, we deplete our system of Vit C.
Food high in vitamin C includes Citrus fruits (lemon, grapefruit, oranges), berries (blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, red capsicum, pineapple, and kiwi fruit.
When we think of vitamin D, we may think of the sun and bone health- but did you know it's a vital nutrient for the function of our immune system?
It has been shown to enhance the antimicrobial effects of our immune system, which proves to be crucial in infection control.
It also plays an integral role in the integrity of our gut microbiome (good bacteria in our gut), as it decreases inflammation and effects our white blood cells positively.
Eggs, oily fish (mackerel, anchovies), liver and cheese are good food sources of Vitamin D.
For vitamin D from the sun to be actively absorbed by our body, we need an adequate amount of cholesterol in our bodies.
Along with being of importance for our hormones, hair, skin, and nails, zinc plays an important part in immune system function.
It impacts our white blood cells, as well as the health and integrity of our cell membranes. It is crucial for the function of the cells in our bodies that go to battle when infection and illness is present.
Zinc can be found in highest dosage through oysters, and also in also red meat, pumpkin seeds, eggs, leafy greens, and my personal favourite, raw cacao.
The health of our blood and many of our organs is highly dependent on how we absorb and store iron.
Iron has been shown to be directly involved in immune response specific to bacteria and parasites, as well as assist in skin immune barrier response.
Legumes, tahini, red meat, leafy greens, and once again, eggs, are high in Iron.
Beta glucans are a structural component of yeast and fungi. They have been shown to increase resistance against nasties trying to enter the body and are known to have immune adapting functions.
As well as increasing the function of our Natural Killer cells, Beta Glucans also have a positive effect on our macrophages, which are responsible
They have also been shown to have tumour reducing qualities and have been used in adjunct cancer treatments.
Shiitake and reishi mushrooms, nutritional yeast flakes, oats, barley are all great sources of Beta Glucans.
Lastly, I'd love to leave you with what I believe is one of the most important immune boosters of all (but not quite a nutrient) …
...Rest. Let your body rest and recover so it can absorb the nutrients you feed it.
Be well 😊