Immune Health and Diet. Written by Alice Mika, Dietitian.
As we're all returning to the office, getting out of isolation and the kids are returning to school/childcare, many of us are starting to think about how to avoid getting sick or how to boost our immune system.
Before you rush out to the chemist to grab an immune boosting supplement, there’s a few simple things you can do to support your immune system with the food you eat.
Eat a wide variety of food from all food groups
The simplest, and potentially most important step for supporting your immune function is to ensure that you’re consuming foods from all food groups (grains, dairy, meat/legumes, fruits, vegetables) with a particular focus on fruit and vegetable intake.
A diet with a variety of fruits and vegetables is likely to be more beneficial for immune health than supplementing specific vitamins with store bought supplements.
Even though it can be difficult to get out of the house in the colder months, especially when you’re snuggled up on the couch with a blanket and a movie, getting outside for your daily dose of vitamin D is important to help support immunity. In Melbourne during winter, the recommendation is to aim for 25-45 minutes a day.
While this sounds like a lot, small amounts across the day is an easy way to achieve this. My personal favourites include walking the dog an
d popping down to my local café for a coffee. If you’re concerned about your vitamin D levels through winter, visit your GP to get them checked and see if you need some additional support.
It is well known that probiotics are great for supporting your gut health however they may also be great for immunity too! Yoghurt, kefir, tempeh or other fermented foods are a great way to include probiotics into your diet. Try adding yoghurt or kefir to your cereal, or tempeh to a stir-fry for dinner.
The old “Vitamin C stops you from getting a cold” saying is not as true as you may have thought. While the evidence for preventing illness with vitamin C is limited, Vitamin C may be useful for reducing the duration of your cold symptoms. In other words, it won’t stop you from getting sick, but it may help you feel a little better, faster.
Foods higher in vitamin C include capsicum, kale, spinach, oranges, mandarins, and tomatoes.
Insufficient sleep can have a detrimental effect on many things in life, including mood and immune function. Long term, insufficient sleep can contribute to an increase in inflammation, which can contribute to, or negatively affect the management of many chronic conditions, including type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. For adults, the general recommendation is for 7-9 hours each night. With colder weather, shorter days and a number of reasons to get into a good sleep routine, what better excuse could you want to get cosy?
Our dietitian Alice is available for Telehealth consults and face to face appointments on Thursday afternoons. If you’d like more information on staying healthy through winter, book in by calling 9372 8091 or via our website.