Exercise, especially if intense and prolonged, puts your body under stress, with consequents on the efficiency of the immune system, which is the first defense against infectious agents.
If you are an endurance athlete, you know very well that nutrition is crucial to support your energy needs and promote recovery. But even if you’re just a regular person trying to stay energetic and fit, don’t forget that nutrients also have an important impact on the functioning of your immune system.
In this time and age - especially in Fall - it’s super important to do everything possible to strengthen your immune system which safeguards you against illness and infection.
Here are 5 tips on an immune-boosting diet to keep it healthy and active.
1) No to restrictive diets
While you need to be in control of your food consumption, make sure you provide enough energy to your body, to support your workouts and promote recovery; the restrictive diet can cause loss of muscle mass, but it causes stress and weakens all organic systems. Follow a balanced diet, and compose your meals by always inserting carbohydrates, proteins, and fats: it will help you prevent energy drops and keep you full and active during the day.
2) Plant foods
Fill your pantry with plant-based foods; legumes and whole grains should be the basis of your diet, not forgetting to include dried fruits, oily seeds, and 5 portions of fruits and vegetables into your daily diet. These foods are rich in vitamins and minerals, but also antioxidant action substances that help combat oxidative stress. If you choose vegetables of different colors at each meal, the variety is insured, and you will limit the risk of nutritional deficiencies. Remember - veggies are always an essential part of any immune-boosting diet.
3) Reduce refined flours and derivatives
They are industrial-derived products that have lost most of their nutritional characteristics and have a strong impact on blood sugar. The consequence is a strong pro-inflammatory effect that engages the cells of the immune system making us weaker, but also less focused and reactive.
4) Care for your gut
The bacteria that populate our gut (microbiota), actively participate in protection against external aggressions, contributing to modulation of the immune response. The balance of bacterial flora is strongly influenced by nutrition, and when it is not optimal, it increases the inflammatory state and makes us weaker. For the well-being of your gut, eat 'eubiotic' foods every day, such as fresh vegetables, legumes, and whole grains, rich in fiber, and limit animal protein and refined and high-sugar foods.
The efficiency of our cellular systems depends heavily on the presence of water. All dehydrated cells are less metabolically efficient, and this also applies to those of the immune system. Hydrated regularly, drinking water, but also giving preference to fresh foods, which compared to preserved foods contain more water and active nutrients.
Of course, it’s best to prevent any illness than to treat it - a properly balanced immune-boosting diet is what could contribute it a lot. But if you ever feel like you start noticing signs and symptoms of flu, cold, or any other illness more often than usual, we encourage you to contact your doctor with no hesitance.
Stay healthy and don’t forget about your breakfasts! ;)
Author: Francesca Deriu, Nutritionist at Minutro