Eating for Immunity
It’s that time of year when people can start coughing and snivelling and generally feeling a bit run down, it seems to happen whenever there is a significant seasonal change especially as summer fades into Autumn. Those with children will know that they can often skip back in from school with all manner of germs that they seem to shrug off but we can inherit!
I think of food as nourishment and fuel, i.e. what can it do for us? When we consider eating for immunity that link is no different, how can food make us stronger and indeed, make us feel better (or worse). Often though as seasons change, people begin to want more comfort foods, whilst they don’t need to be, comfort foods can often be unhealthy.
So, do we just need to eat an extra orange a day for vitamin C or as the old saying goes “An apple a day keeps the Doctor away”. Well, there’s a bit more to it than that but in theory, support your immune function to perform at its’ best and it will do its’ best to protect you from illness.
Eating for Immunity
Take vitamin C for example; Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) is classified as an antioxidant, it supports the immune function, helps wounds to heal and is involved in healthy skin, bones, blood vessels and cartilage. We cannot store vitamin C so a daily supply is needed and the RDA is 40mg. This is best from food sources not supplements.
Vitamin C is an important antioxidant as it hunts out free radical activity rather than waiting to encounter it. (hence the orange person with binoculars!).
Now what is a free radical? Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive. They are also part of normal bodily functions but can be exacerbated by external influences such as diet, stress, pollutants, exercise, alcohol etc. All of which increase our free radical activity.
I won’t get too science’y but Free radical activity is known as ROS or reactive oxygen species. If this ROS exceeds antioxidants our cells can become damaged.
Are you suffering from oxidative stress?
If there are too many free radicals (Reactive Oxygen Species/ROS) and not enough antioxidants to respond to them oxidative stress can occur. You may not realise you are suffering from oxidative stress but these are some of the symptoms: –
- Brain fog/confusion/diminished brain function
- Joint pain
- Decreased eye sight
- Frequent infections
The more serious consequences of oxidative stress over a longer time period are: –
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Adrenal fatigue
- Leaky gut
Now that all sounds a bit scary but there’s a lot you can do to protect yourself.
In my Learn over Lunch on Eating for Immunity I cover more of the science-y elements of Free radicals but I also focus on the solutions by talking about Antioxidants. What are they? What do they do? Where can you find them? And Is there such a thing as a superfood?
Whilst nutrition plays a HUGE role in supporting our immune system there are other factors at play too, I will discuss the impact of stress, poor sleep, inability to relax and toxins in our lifestyle. All of which impact on our immune system in a negative way.
For more information on this subject – my Learn over Lunch on Immunity is on Thursday 11th Oct in Market Harborough – booking details here: –
For more information generally visit here: –
For more information on children’s health and nutrition check out my award-winning nutritional cook book for children.
15th October my blog post will be looking at diets
22nd October – healthy Halloween treats