As the fall season approaches, a common concern often comes up regarding the upcoming season of increased colds and flus. In this blog post, we will discuss what the immune system is, explore the importance of nutrition in supporting the immune system and share practical ways to strengthen the body’s defenses, especially as we navigate the germ-prone fall season.
Our immune system is our defense system, comprised of organs, cells and proteins all working together. It starts with an outer layer, our skin and mucous membranes that trap dust and dirt particles. However, what some people may not realize, is that over 70% of our immune cells are found in our digestive system! This highlights the amazing connection between our gut and immune system and how nutrition can play a role in supporting our immune function.
Here are five ways you can support your immune system:
- Try to include a variety of colourful foods with meals and snacks. Different coloured fruits and vegetables provide important vitamins and minerals that play key roles in immune function. Examples includes berries, apples, bananas, carrots, tomatoes, leafy green vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli.
- Include a variety of protein sources: Protein supports with the structure and repair of various cells including our immune cells. Try to include a protein food with each meal, such as beans, lentils, chicken, fish, Greek yogurt, eggs, nuts and seeds.
- Stay Hydrated: Adequate hydration is essential for supporting numerous bodily functions, including the immune system. Try sipping on water throughout the day to stay well hydrated.
- Balance meals and snacks: Try to balance out meals and snacks by including fiber foods and protein foods. Some easy fiber foods to try include whole grains, beans, lentils, fruits and vegetables.
- Mind-Body Connection: We can also support our immune function through activities that promote stress reduction. Meditation, yoga, or even a short mindfulness breathing practice can help to activate the rest & digest part of our nervous system, which in turn may help us better digest the nutrients in our food.
Supporting the immune system through nutrition and fostering a strong mind-body connection can help support the body’s defenses during the fall and winter seasons ahead. For support getting started with some nutrition changes or to connect with a welcoming community to try out a mindfulness practice, please get in touch. Visit Book an Appointment – InspireHealth to book to see our nutrition team, or View Schedule & Book – InspireHealth to join us for a nutrition workshop or meditation class.
- Chandra RK. Nutrition and the immune system: an introduction. Am J Clin Nutr. 1997 Aug;66(2):460S-463S. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/66.2.460S. PMID: 9250133.
- Childs CE, Calder PC, Miles EA. Diet and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2019 Aug 16;11(8):1933. doi: 10.3390/nu11081933. PMID: 31426423; PMCID: PMC6723551.