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Eating for Immunity

by Sarah Nankervis, Nutritionist and Naturopath, Luxton Clinic, Melbourne.

Cooking at home can be a powerful way to look after yourself and family by strengthening immunity and personal connection. Sharing home cooked and nourishing meals increases essential immune nutrients. In addition, stress hormones can be decreased by being with the people we love.

Daily habits to help to prevent virus susceptibility

  • Too much stress increases the hormone cortisol, which can suppress the immune system. Meditation, mindfulness, yoga, drawing, colouring, doing puzzles and belly breathing all have a positive impact on your immune system.
  • Ensure you’re eating a balanced diet to receive a range of essential vitamins and minerals to support your immune system.
  • Aim for 2 cups of vegetables daily and include a variety of gluten free whole grains, healthy fats and protein at each meal.
  • Wash hands thoroughly and often, avoid touching your mouth, eyes or face. Sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow or a tissue and disinfect your phone!

What can you include in your diet to help support immunity?

  • Vitamin D foods and a little sunshine. Vitamin D can naturally be found in fatty fish, such as salmon and sardines, egg yolks, grass fed liver (lamb or chicken), mushrooms. Mushrooms, specifically Shiitake mushroom contain a polysaccharide called beta-glucan, which is responsible for the potential immune-modulating effects to help support you against viruses.
  • Antioxidants - fruits and vegetables in particular reds and purples - berries, beetroot, purple carrots, plums; and fruits to help reduce inflammation and mucous - pineapple, pawpaw, green papaya, kiwifruit.
  • Herbs and spices - turmeric, ginger, local garlic, onion, thyme, sage, oregano. The Immunity Blend which is full of immune boosting ingredients such as Garlic, Alleppey turmeric, onion, ginger, clove, thyme, black peppercorn, cayenne - I love adding this to curries, soups or great for a sore throat with a teaspoon of Manuka honey.
  • Zinc can increase the activation of cells responsible for fighting infections and may help reduce the duration of a cold. Foods high in zinc include, oysters, grass fed beef, almonds and chickpeas.
  • Bone broth, Manuka honey and lemons should feature often along with plenty of water and herbal teas.
  • Fermented foods provide us with a wide variety of bacteria to support a healthy GUT microbiome to support gut health and improve immunity - sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, kombucha, kefir and yoghurt.

Supporting your immune system through eating a wide variety of whole foods, herbs and spices can support you during times of increased susceptibility to cold and flu viruses. Eating for your immune system can help to decrease viral symptoms along with supporting your body while you are unwell.

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