Nutrients that have been demonstrated (in either animal or human studies) to be required for the immune system to function efficiently include essential amino acids, the essential fatty acid linoleic acid, vitamin A, folic acid, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, vitamin C, vitamin E, Zn, Cu, Fe and Se. Practically all forms of immunity may be effected by deficiencies in one or more of these nutrients.
Animal and human studies have demonstrated that adding the deficient nutrient back to the diet can restore immune function and resistance to infection. Among the compounds studied most in this regard are Vitamin E and Zinc. Increasing intakes of some nutrients above habitual and recommended levels can enhance some aspects of immune function. However, excess amounts of some nutrients also impair immune function (Calder PC1, Kew S.).
Here is a list of my favourite foods to get these immune boosting properties to support immunity this Fall:
Lemons: High in the antioxidant Vitamin C, lemons also contain some B Vitamins which are great for energy and stress. In addition, lemon has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Tip: start your day with a slice or two of organic lemon in warm water.
Garlic: Garlic is antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal. It's high in antioxidants, which fight free radical stress in the body. When garlic is crushed or chopped, allicin forms, a compound which has many health benefits.
Turmeric: There is a reason why this spice has been used for thousands of years in India. Due to the curcumin content in turmeric, it is a very strong antioxidant; turmeric supports the liver, supports the joints and has anti-inflammatory properties. Available for purchase as a root, or as a spice (buy spices organic).
Vitamin E Rich Foods: Vitamin E is a fat soluble antioxidant. I recommend eating raw nuts, nut butter, seeds and avocado to get your fix.
Vitamin A Rich Foods: orange foods such as carrots, contain antioxidant Vitamin A precursors called carotenoids (beta carotene) that help promote vision and support a healthy immune system.
Ginger: This root has antimicrobial properties, boosts immune function and fights cellular damage. Get your ginger here.
Greens: Why greens? Greens are high in many vitamins, minerals and chlorophyll, and they also contain fibre which feeds your gut bacteria. Our microbiome impacts the strength of our immune system, mood, digestion and inflammation.
Berries: It's not berry season, but I couldn't leave them out! Berries are high in flavanols, an antioxidant that prevents cell damage and support the immune system
Fermented Foods: If we aren't taking a probiotic, we should definitely be getting good bacteria from our food. Examples of fermented food include sauerkraut, kimchi, miso paste, kombucha, tempeh, and pickled beets. Fermented foods must be purchased from the refrigerated section at the grocery store. If they add vinegar to food it's simply pickled and there are no live cultures.
Chaga: This medicinal mushroom has no psychoactive effects and is known for immune system support. I buy Sun Potion or Four Sigmatic and drink as a beverage. It's caffeine free, but helps with energy due to the way it supports the adrenal glands, and the organs that are impacted from stress and shift work. When the adrenal glands (often referred to as the HPA axis) are taxed our immune system suffers.
Super Maqui: “This purple powder known as Aristotelia chilensis is considered to be the most powerful antioxidant superfruit for being rich in polyphenols, anthocyanins, delphinidins, and other nutrients. According to the USDA's ORAC database, the Chilean fruit contains 7x more antioxidant value than acai berries and 9x more than goji berries. The delphinidins in the Super Maqui™ berry are highly effective at neutralizing free-radicals, which are agents that age the body, helping us combat the symptoms that come with aging, and prevents development of cancer cells” - Super Maqui site with quoted research.
Tip: Ensure you are getting adequate Vitamin D as we won't hit our recommended daily intake in the Fall/Winter months. Supplementation of D3 is recommended versus D2 due to absorption benefits. D3 is usually made from lanolin which is from sheep’s wool, but if you’re vegan you can choose D3 from lichen.
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