We sat down with Dietitian Victoria Matkovic from Thrive Nutrition to answer all of your questions about how food affects your immunity.
From sniffling strangers on your morning commute, the dirty sink in the work kitchen or that one person who never wipes down their machine at the gym - you’re exposed to potentially harmful bacteria every day.
Your immune system, which is an intricate network of pathways and stages involving your cells, tissues and organs, helps to defend your body from these microbes.
There are several factors that can either strengthen or weaken your immune system, including your age, weight and lack of sleep, however one of the more important factors is your daily diet. While a lot of lifters obsessively track their macros, the body’s immune response is heavily reliant on your micronutrient levels, meaning your Potassium intake is just as important as your protein, your calcium just as important as carbs.
When your diet lacks these essential nutrients and vitamins, it disrupts the production of the immune cells and antibodies that fight off the infections and bacteria on the sweaty quad raise machine. But how do we know exactly what to eat to boost our immunity?
Immunity Supporting Foods
While it’s unlikely individual foods offer special protection against disease & infection, there are dietary patterns which can benefit your immune system.
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to support the immune system through its anti-inflammatory properties, as well as decreasing the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Most lifters will find they already follow a version of this diet, with high amounts of fish, nuts, vegetables, fruits, poultry, wholegrains and extra virgin olive oil, while consuming low amounts of red meat and processed foods.
More specifically, vitamins and minerals like calcium & iron are critical for immunity, as well as Vitamin B and Zinc. While we'd like to emphasize that specific foods aren't going to singlehandedly boost your immunity, there are foods which contain higher levels of the vitamins and minerals that are key when it comes to maintaining a strongly-functioning immune system. Add these to your next meal prep.
6 IMMUNITY BOOSTING FOODS
High levels of vitamin C increase the production of white blood cells (these are key when it comes to fighting off infections). Integrate oranges into your daily diet with this immune-system boosting juice recipe!
Garlic contains compounds that help your immune system fight germs. Studies showed that eating more garlic can lower the risk of you catching a cold, as well as decrease the severity if you do catch one!
Ginger can boost your immunity due to its strong anti-inflammatory abilities and antioxidant levels.
Rich in Vitamin C, spinach is packed with numerous antioxidants which increase the infection-fighting ability of your immune system.
Plain yoghurt (not the double chocolate chip kind) is loaded with Vitamin D and active cultures, which help to stimulate and regulate your immune system.
These shellfish are packed with zinc, a mineral which helps your immune cells function normally (although beware of too much zinc in your diet).
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