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3 Unexpected Ways Nutrition Supports Your Immune System: Easy To Implement Nutrition Tips For A Healthy Body

Posted by Agnes Lussier-Dow NP-PHC on 25 August 2021
3 Unexpected Ways Nutrition Supports Your Immune System: Easy To Implement Nutrition Tips For A Healthy Body

What Is The Immune System And How Does It Work? 

The immune system is exactly that — a system. Organs, cells, hormones and more work together and independently to fight off infections and keep your body healthy. Innate immunity is your first line of defence. This is made up of barriers like your skin, mucus, stomach acid and white blood cells. Adaptive or acquired immunity is a process during which the cells and organs that make up the immune system identify, remember and defend against pathogens like bacteria and viruses. The major players in this system are the spleen, thymus, bone marrow and your lymph nodes. 

The immune system is a pretty ingenious thing. It keeps a biological record of every microbe it fights and defeats so that, if presented with the same threat again, it can fight it off quickly and effectively. Some infections, like the cold and flu, are a little different. Because there are so many new strains of these common infections that pop up every year the body has to continuously learn to protect itself against them. That’s why, as we head into the fall, it is more important than ever to give your immune system a helping hand. 

What Does The Immune System Need To Work Well?

Because the immune system is made up of so many parts and processes acting together and independently this is a hard question to answer. In short, to be in optimal condition the immune system needs a lot of different things. Luckily, nutrition plays a significant role in a healthy immune system because what you eat fuels your body and systems at the cellular level. Good nutrition is never a bad thing. 

Boosting your immune system through nutrition goes well beyond drinking your daily glass of orange juice. In fact, nutrition and diet affect the resilience of your immune system in some interesting and unexpected ways. 

Boost your immune system with nutritious food

3 Keys Factors In Maintaining A Healthy Immune System

There are many factors to maintaining a healthy immune system. For example, genetics, environment and diet are all commonly known parts of the equation. But, these are only the tip of the iceberg. Here are three factors that affect the health of your immune system but that often get overlooked: 

Getting Enough Sleep 

Sleep heals. Sleep is a time for rest and cellular repair and shouldn’t be taken for granted. While you sleep, your body releases something called “cytokine” which helps to fight infection. So, when you get enough rest regularly, you will have a stronger immune system!

Your Stress Levels 

When you are stressed out you will have higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol suppresses inflammation. That might sound like a good thing but, actually, inflammation is needed to kick start your immune system’s response. 

Environmental Toxins 

Unfortunately, there are toxins all around us. In our water, air, food and even in the products we put on and in our bodies. Toxins are bad news and can affect the ability of your immune cells to function optimally. 

Lifestyle changes can help address these three factors. You can go to bed earlier, start meditating and reduce your exposure to toxins. But, each of these factors can also be supported with proper daily nutrition. 

Get Better Sleep, Reduce Your Stress And Eliminate Toxins With Proper Nutrition 

When we talk about nutrition we are talking about getting the food-based macro-nutrients, vitamins and minerals your body needs to grow, function and remain healthy. When we nourish our bodies well achieving and maintaining optimal health is much easier. Each bodily system and process benefits from proper nutrition — after all, the food we eat affects us down to a cellular level! 

As we have seen, getting enough sleep, reducing your stress and eliminating environmental toxins all play a role in the health of your immune system. Implementing these simple nutrition tips into your daily diet can help you achieve each of these goals and nurture a healthy and resilient immune system. 

Nutrition Tips For Better Sleep 

What you eat has a direct effect on how you sleep. While you should moderate how much sugar and caffeine you enjoy each day, there’s more to it! Sleep is regulated by your hormones and your hormones are affected by what you eat.  One of the more important hormones associated with sleep and sleep patterns is melatonin. Fortunately, including some of the following melatonin-rich foods in your dinner or an evening snack can help boost production and make drifting off to sleep a little easier! 

  • Combine some gently roasted corn, asparagus, broccoli and olives in a delicious salad

  • Sip on soda water with a generous splash of tart cherry nectar (unsweetened, of course!)

  • Enjoy a handful of walnuts or sunflower seeds while you watch your favourite movie

Eating To Reduce Stress

When life falls out of balance, stress creeps in and wreaks havoc on your immune system (among other things). Too much work, not enough rest and poor nourishment is a recipe for less than optimal health. Stress releases cortisol which, as we saw above, can suppress the immune system. Eating well and staying well hydrated can help you manage stress by keeping your cortisol levels stable. Here are some foods you can consider adding to your daily diet:

  • Dark chocolate

  • Black and green tea

  • Foods enriched with probiotics like yogurt

  • Foods that are high in soluble fibre

Eliminating Toxins With Food

We are all exposed to hundreds of toxins every day through what we eat, what we put on our bodies and even the air we breathe. Your liver, kidneys and colon are the big players in eliminating toxins from your body so supporting these organs with proper nutrition helps to reduce their effects and ensure a healthier immune system. 

  • Grapefruit is good for the liver 

  • Blueberries and cranberries are good for both the liver and kidneys

  • High fibre foods are good for your colon

Make a smoothie and help your body flush toxins out naturally! Your immune system will thank you. 

50 year old woman smiling while resting on a couch

Nutrition And The Health Of Your Immune System Go Hand In Hand

Supporting your immune system with the foods you eat goes beyond drinking orange juice and cutting back on coffee. Your immune system involves many different organs and processes.  The food you eat fuels each and every one of these. Therefore, nutrition has a larger role to play than you might think when it comes to keeping your immune system strong and resilient. 

While washing your hands, getting exercise and taking your daily multi-vitamin are often the first things that come to mind when we talk about surviving cold and flu season, there are other commonly overlooked factors at play. For example, the quality of your sleep, your stress levels and your exposure to everyday toxins are also affecting your bodily functions — including your immune system. By supporting these (and other) functions by focusing on good nutrition you can boost your immune system and reduce your risk of getting ill. 

Not sure where to start? If you need help boosting your immune system through nutrition and lifestyle changes, contact our clinic. We can help with programs or one on one support, education and treatments. 

Author:Agnes Lussier-Dow NP-PHC
Tags:women's healthImmune SystemNutrition