So what should you do?
More is not necessarily better and researchers at Harvard medical school have been investigating what you can eat to maximise your immunity. They have identified the positive immunity benefits of several nutrients you might want to consider integrating into your diet.
Selenium – People with low selenium levels are at greater risk of bladder, breast, colon, rectum, lung and prostate cancers. If you eat a diet balanced with meat, fish and nuts you should be getting enough selenium. If you are vegan or vegetarian nuts, seeds, wholegrains and mushrooms are good selenium providers.
Healthy foods containing Selenium: Fish, meat (chicken & turkey), nuts & seeds, eggs, mushrooms & wholegrains.
Vitamin A – A deficiency is linked to impaired immunity and risk of infectious diseases. Good sources of Vitamin A include cheese, eggs, milk, yoghurt and oily fish.
If you are on a vegan or vegetarian diet you can maintain a good level of beta carotene which the body stores as Vitamin A:
Yellow, red and leafy green vegetables (spinach, carrot, sweet potatoes, red peppers, curly kale)
Yellow fruit (mango, papaya and apricots)
Vitamin B2 – Enhances resistance to bacterial infection
Healthy B2 choices: Mushrooms, eggs, spinach, milk, soybeans and nuts
Vitamin B6 – A deficiency can directly affect the proper functioning of the immune system
Healthy sources of B6: Pork, chicken, fish, whole grains, peanuts, bananas, potatoes, chickpeas and milk
Vitamin D – Is your weapon in the fight against disease. There are two great ways to get enough vitamin D.
Healthy food – Oily fish and eggs are two nutritious ways ensure you have enough D
Sunshine – Get outside (with adequate skin protection) breath in the fresh air and benefit from the vitamin boost.
Vitamin E – Increases your antibody response (natures antibiotic). Although it can be found in a wide variety of foods, the richest sources are plant oils such as olive oil.
Make sure you have a daily munch on nuts & seeds
Zinc – An essential element for the cells of the immune system.
Healthy zinc rich foods: Shellfish, lean meat, whole grain bread, spinach, nuts & seeds, cacao nibs
Overall the research suggests following a diet high in fruit and vegetables, whole grains and low saturated fats. Balance lean meat and fish and get plenty of fresh air and exercise. Supplement your diet with these vitamins and minerals if you have to restrict your diet and get a good night’s sleep, it works wonders for body and brain function.