My passion for sport and nutrition have been a large component of my life. As a semi-professional volleyball player, I learnt how important a healthy diet is to enhance performance, energy level and improve overall health as nutrition has a large impact on a person’s life. I believe that we are what we eat.
My enthusiasm for this field led me to want to pass my knowledge to others, helping them to improve their health and lifestyle, in everyday life.
I graduated from the University of Essex with a BSc in Sport and Exercise Performance, and from London Metropolitan University with a MSc in Nutrition (Sport specialised). I am registered with the UK Association for Nutrition (AfN).
Today I want to talk about an important topic especially in this very difficult time and because we are in autumn, going towards cold season which increase the probability of been more exposed to seasonal diseases. How to increase the body’s immune system to fight viral and bacterial infections, through healthy food.
A very effective way to increase immune system through diet is eating a balanced diet rich in vitamins and minerals. The vitamins that increase the immune system defenses are: vitamin C, A, E, D, B6, B, and B12. Among the minerals, zinc, selenium, iron and copper are beneficial to help the immune system.
Antioxidant principles such as vitamins counteract the harmful action of free radicals and other oxidizing compounds constantly produced during infections and inflammations.
A diet rich of antioxidant food not only gives a great benefit of antioxidant and ant inflammatory but also gives a well-functioning intestine as it is responsible for the immune reactions and the management of physical stress.
Which Foods to consume:
– Fresh fruit
In particular the one rich in vitamin C such as citrus fruits, which help the immune system to protect us from disease as well as strengthen the body, promoting the absorption of the iron contained in plant. Since the body does not produce or store vitamin C, it needs it daily.
Popular citrus fruits include:
Most of the benefits of kiwi fruit are linked to the high content of vitamin C, with excellent properties of antioxidant action (also conferred by vitamin E) including strengthening the immune system through the formation of antibodies, which protect us from infections.
Blueberries contain flavonoids, antioxidant that reduce the damage to cells and boost immune system thanks to plenty of vitamin A, C, potassium, manganese and dietary fiber.
– Fresh vegetables
The bitter ones are excellent for their purifying properties as chicory, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, spinach. The orange or red colored ones (carrots, pumpkin, beetroot) rich in beta-carotene- they help to increase the number of cells that fight infections and help eliminate free radicals. Tomatoes and peppers are also useful for vitamin C and polyphenols, preferably eaten raw, in salads.
Garlic can also help reduce blood pressure and slow down hardening of the arteries. The immune-boosting properties of garlic appear to come from a strong concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger can help reduce inflammation, which can help reduce sore throats and other inflammatory diseases.
– Yogurt and active lactic ferments
Look for yogurt with “active, living cultures” printed on the label, such as Greek yogurt. These cultures can stimulate the immune system to help fight disease. Try to get plain yogurt rather than the types that are pre-flavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruit and a drizzle of honey.
The active lactic ferments present in yogurt restore the balance of the intestinal flora on which the proper functioning of the immune system depends.
Yogurt can also be an excellent source of vitamin D, so try to select brands enriched with vitamin D. Vitamin D helps regulate the immune system and is believed to increase our body’s natural defenses against disease.
– Almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts
They contain many minerals such as selenium, zinc and copper. Also rich in vitamin E and Omega 3. The ideal dose is 20/30 grams per day.
– Green tea
Both green and black tea are rich in flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, another powerful antioxidant.
– Mollusks and fish
Shellfish is not what comes to mind for many who are looking to boost their immune systems, but some types of shellfish are high in zinc.
Zinc doesn’t get the same attention as many other vitamins and minerals, but our bodies do need it so our immune cells can function.
High-zinc shellfish varieties include:
Honey contains substances with bactericidal and antibiotic effects. A tablespoon consumed daily can help prevent cough, flu, cold and sore throat by disinfecting the respiratory tract.
A few grams a day are enough to fill up with antioxidants. They help the body to regenerate and increase its immune defenses. Among those to be preferred are curry, ginger, turmeric and cinnamon.
Wholewheat, Wholegrain and Oats contribute to intestinal well-being which at the same time ensures a good balance of the immune defenses. Rich in fiber, mineral salts and essential fatty acids.
They contain beta-glucans, complex carbohydrates that improve the activity of the immune system against infections and cancer. Mushrooms are rich in selenium – which helps white blood cells produce cytokines and beta-glucan, which are responsible for defending against infections.
My mission is to is to make nutrition individual to each person as each person have their unique nutritional needs. Some are looking for manage weight, others may need to prevent or fight a disease, others need to maximise overall health or energy level maybe to enhance performance. I am delighted to make this happen in an enjoyable and sustainable way.