Immune health has never been as hot of a topic as it is right now. Can we impact whether we get sick and if the body can fight off illness? The short answer – YES!
Now, for the longer answer. What we choose to put in our mouths every day plays a significant role when it comes to preventing and fighting off illness. We’re not sitting ducks waiting to see if we’ll get sick. Our decisions make a difference!
It’s true that many behaviors play a role when it comes to preventing illness and the body’s ability to recover – sleep, exercise, stress, obesity. While these are important, here at Wholly Plants we’re all about the food. So what does the research tell us when it comes to immune health? So glad you asked!
- Getting plenty of micronutrients can change how germs act in the body. Supplements don’t seem to have the same impact – our vitamins and minerals need to come from real food. To put it simply – eats LOTS of fruits and veggies!
- Lack of nutrients means a weaker immune response. What are some of the most nutrient-dense foods? Leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, all veggies, berries, flax seeds, edamame, lentils.
- High fat diets may reduce immune response while low-fat diets may enhance it.
- Phytochemicals (only found in plants) may reduce the risk of infection. Hello fruits, veggies, beans, nuts and seeds.
- Fiber promotes a healthy gut and a healthy gut means a healthy immune system. Once again – fiber is only found in plant-based foods.
- Eating more fruits and veggies is associated with a lower risk of upper respiratory tract infection.
- Avoiding fruits and veggies can lead to a weakened immune response, while eating carrots, tomatoes and spinach can strengthen the immune system.
- Older adults with low veggie and fruit consumption had less of an immune response than those eating at least 5 servings a day.
- Adding just one apple a day can significantly decrease upper respiratory infections.
So what can we do each and every day to prevent the risk of illness and keep the immune system strong?
- Enjoy nutrient-dense foods at every meal and snack.
- Eat a wide variety of veggies and fruits to get a wide variety of nutrients.
- Include high-fiber foods – whole grains, beans, veggies, fruits.
- Since foods have an almost immediate impact, be consistent in eating your nutrient-dense foods every day.
- Don’t fill up on non-immune supporting foods – this crowds out the good stuff!
Looking for more info on priming your immune system? Check out Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. This book goes into detail about how food impacts your health and the role of specific nutrients. It also offers nutrient-dense menus and recipes.