In addition to the falling leaves, shorter days and cozy evenings, autumn often brings something not particularly pleasant – ailments in the form of coughs and colds. But here’s the good news: you can support your immune system in preparation for the colder seasons with every meal. How? By including a variety of different types of food in your daily diet and leading a healthy and active lifestyle.
Simply put, the immune system is your body’s built-in “army” that is ready to protect you by identifying viruses, bacteria, or parasites or other threats and springing into action to eliminate the threat in various ways, such as producing antibodies. To function well, this army must be supported by a balanced and varied diet.
Here are two simple ways you can keep your immune system functioning properly, even through diet alone:
Eat micronutrient-rich fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables can contain micronutrients that can function as antioxidants* that help protect cells and tissues from damage caused by normal daily metabolism, and in this way they can play a role in our well-being. For example, vitamin C and copper can help protect cells from oxidative stress.
Try: broccoli, tomatoes, squash, carrots, spinach, fruit
Support your gut with fiber-rich food
Your digestive system plays an important role by harboring trillions of bacteria with vital functions such as aiding fiber absorption, producing vitamin K and B12, and protecting the gut from harmful bacteria. Some fibers that are in our diet can undergo fermentation under the influence of intestinal bacteria. Fermentable fiber is converted to metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids. On the other hand, fibers such as oat grain fiber contribute to an increase in faecal volume [2, 3].
Try: whole grain bread, brown rice, cereal, lentils, apple or flax seeds
Think carefully about what you can add to your next meal to support your body and an effective immune system this fall.
* Vit C, E, zinc, selenium contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.
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. Sonnenburg & Bäckhed, Diet microbiome interactions as moderators of human metabolism. Nature, 2016. 535 (7610): pp. 56-64.
. Koh, A., et al., From dietary fiber to host physiology: short-chain fatty acids as key bacterial metabolites. Cell, 2016. 165 (6): pp. 1332-1345.
. Fetisov, SO, Role of the gut microbiome in host appetite control: bacterial growth to animal feeding behavior. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 2017. 13 (1): p. 11