YMCA Winter 2020 | Page 9

4. Eat up those vitamin and mineral rich foods Many micronutrients are essential for a healthy immune system: Vitamins A, C, D, E, B2, B6, B12, folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc. You can get these naturally by including brightly coloured fruits and vegetables, such as berries, citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, apples, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes and carrots. Nuts, seeds, avocado, oily fish and shellfish are also loaded with nutrients that fire up our immune systems. 5. Love your guts Our intestines encounter more pathogens than any other part of the body. Given how many potential nasties enter our body via the gut, it is vital that our gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) is primed to protect us. The GALT represents almost 70% of our entire immune system! We all love potatoes, but did you know that cooked and cooled potato, pasta and rice become high in resistant starch - a type of carbohydrate that isn’t broken down and absorbed by our body? The good news is, fibre feeds the good bugs in our gut! Potato salad, home-made rice salad and slightly-less-thanripe bananas are all good sources of resistant starch. FEATURE ARTICLE WINTER 2020 What about supplements for immune health? Many over-the-counter products claim to ‘boost’ your immune system, but there is little evidence to show that they do. If you have a poor diet, it may help to take a daily multivitamin, but the preference is to get all your nutrients from food. The bottom line is: eat well, follow the tips we’ve outlined, and your immune system should have everything it needs to run optimally. Love your guts by: } Including prebiotic fibres (see Dr Tim Crowe’s article, page 12). } Laying off the heavily processed foods and artificial sweeteners. } Including fermented foods like kefir, kimchi, miso, tempeh and kombucha if you’re into them! 6. Move it Research tells us that we’re more likely to get sick if we don’t exercise. The impact that exercise has on sleep quality might also indirectly strengthen our immune system. } Aim for 30 minutes a day, at least five days per week. } Choose activities you enjoy (so you’ll actually keep them up!). 7. Drink up! Staying hydrated helps your body naturally eliminate toxins and other bacteria that might cause illness. Focus on water, herbal tea and sparkling/soda water as your main fluids, rather than sugary drinks or juices. Body weight (kg) Fluid needs per day 60 2.4L 80 3.2L 120 4.8L YMCA HEALTHY LIVING MAGAZINE 9