Using Nutrition to Boost Your Immune System

The efficiency of your immune system is highly dependent on your level of wellness. Are you consistently getting between six to eight hours of sleep? Are you engaging in cardiovascular and resistance exercise? Are you managing your stress levels in a healthy fashion? Are you meeting your hydration needs on a daily basis? All of these factors play a key role in keeping your immune system as healthy as physically possible. 

Your nutrition can also assist you in achieving a healthy immune system. Here are 3 things that you can do today to boost your immunity:

It is well known that fiber helps with digestive health but rarely realized that it also helps with immunity. We now understand that fiber serves as a fuel source (food) for the microbes in your gut and is referred to as prebiotics. Fermentable fibers are metabolized by these bacteria, leading to the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFA), which in turn help in the development of immune cells. If fiber is not consumed in adequate amounts, the microbes essentially starve and the result is a loss in microbial diversity. This is BAD NEWS for all aspects of your health! Aim for 25-38 grams per day, building up by 5 grams on a weekly basis if you aren’t already consuming a high fiber diet.

For a comprehensive list of high fiber foods, follow me on Instagram @denise.hernandezrd.

Being functionally deficient in any vitamin or mineral means your body lacks the materials necessary for many biochemical reactions, such as cellular energy production or immune cell development. Some of the common nutrient deficiencies that I’ve seen in my career as a dietitian include vitamin D and B vitamins (B12, folate, pyridoxine, biotin, niacin, etc). Mind you, I’ve served as the Houstonian Club dietitian for seven out of the nine years I’ve been in practice. I say this to point out that most of the population that I’ve worked with are Houstonian Club Members. Even with access to some of the best foods and the healthiest lifestyles, there is still a risk of nutrient deficiencies.

The good news is that you can be tested to determine whether you have any functional nutrient deficiencies through Spectra Cell Laboratories. We offer this service through the Results Center and can help you correct any deficiency through personalized nutrition and supplementation.

Daily intake of these foods offers immune-boosting properties, including the ability to mitigate inflammation. They are loaded with phytonutrients that help your body combat disease, such as the beta carotene found in spinach, which increases the infection-fighting ability of your immune cells. These foods include but are not limited to: citrus fruits, bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, garlic, ginger, turmeric, almonds, sunflower seeds, green tea, and yogurt. When considering portion sizes aim for a daily dose of: 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables per day (heavy on the vegetables); 1 oz nuts and seeds; 1-2 cups green tea; 6 oz yogurt.

For more information on what you can do to improve your immune system through nutrition, contact us

By: Denise Hernandez, MS, RD, LD