Now, more than ever, we need immune support
With Covid-19 set to be firmly with us for 2021, this continues to be the time to focus on boosting immunity. Whilst research is still lacking on the effectiveness of nutritional interventions in Covid-19, we can certainly take what we know already on what impacts the immune system and our immunity. I plan to write some blog posts over the next few weeks on different factors that impact immunity.
The gut microbiome
Much of the body’s immune response depends on the gut microbiome (the bugs that live in the gut). We know that supporting a balanced intestinal microbial community is essential for the integrity of the immune system, for the prevention and response to infections, and for recovery from illness. This year, in particular, we are beginning to see an increase in research into the gut and its relationship to Covid-19.
Alterations to the microbiome, due to an unhealthy lifestyle and dietary triggers, may contribute to inflammation, “leaky gut”, immune system dysfunction, and the development of a broad spectrum of chronic diseases. Studies show that those who had a less diverse gut microbiome were more prone to inflammation, weight gain and insulin resistance – all potential risk factors for Covid-19.
What can you do?
Foods and nutrients that potentially boost immune function also tend to promote gut health. As such, it is essential to consume a diverse array of fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and phytochemicals to boost our overall immune system function. These same fruits and vegetables also contain soluble fibres that “feed” the microbial community in the colon to optimise gut balance and health. Further the insoluble fibre present within fruit and vegetables assists in the efficient processing and elimination of waste from the intestinal tract.
For optimal gut and immune support, you should:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 9-13 servings per day of a variety of types to enhance the gut microbiome
- Consume dietary fibre, a minimum of 28-35 grams daily, preferably from whole foods
- Eat fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods to support gut health
- Reduce or avoid immune offenders such as added sugars and salt, high-glycaemic foods (including processed carbohydrates), and excessive saturated fat