Health experts share essential foods for a healthy immune system

While the UK has been staying at home and social distancing, reports have shown a massive decrease in the number of cold and flu cases across the UK in comparison to previous years[1].

But as we begin our exit out of lockdown and people see their loved ones, it’s likely we’ll see these numbers rise again. However, a strong and healthy immune system can be the key to keeping bugs at bay, and with 80% of our body’s natural defence system living in the gut, what you eat could help keep you in the pub and out of bed this spring.

Every time we eat, our gut bacteria breaks down our food and use it to grow. As this process occurs, healthy gut bacteria produce beneficial compounds that are beneficial for the way immune systems functions. That’s why, having a gut containing plenty of healthy bacteria leaves the immune system with time to handle its many complex everyday functions.

With this in mind, health experts at online GP service, Livi, have shared nine key foods to incorporate into your daily diet to help keep your immune system fighting fit.

1. Sauerkraut

Filled with immune boosting probiotics, sauerkraut may help improve the balance of bacteria in your gut, which overall helps keep your gut lining healthy. By maintaining a healthy gut lining, you can prevent unwanted bacteria from “leaking” into the gut and triggering an immune response, allowing your immune system to focus on fighting off everyday infections such as cold and flus.

2. Kombucha

Kombucha is available in many forms such as flavoured in a fizzy drink or brewed into a warming tea and has been consumed for thousands of years due to its great gut benefits. During the fermentation process, probiotics are produced, making this a great gut boosting drink to add to your routine.

3. Kefir

Easily added to a smoothie or consumed on its own in various flavours, Kefir is a cultured, fermented milk drink filled with healthy nutrients and gut boosting probiotics.

4. Onion

The base to many meals, onions are rich in prebiotics which help increase the number of friendly bacteria in your gut. While we need probiotics from the foods already mentioned to add to the population of good bacteria in our gut, prebiotics are essential for stimulating the growth of that good bacteria, acting as a food for them and nurturing them to full strength. It’s important to have a balance of both to encourage a strong immune system.

5. Garlic

While you may not want it on your breath, you definitely want garlic in your diet for its prebiotic qualities. Add a clove to your dishes for a quick boost.

6. Asparagus

Another great vegetable for providing prebiotics is asparagus, but its benefits don’t just stop there. Asparagus can also encourage production of vitamin B and overall good digestion.[2]

7. Jerusalem artichokes

Jerusalem artichoke contains fructooligosaccharides, which can provide stability of probiotics and acid production in the gut, making it an ideal addition to your diet if you’re looking to boost your immune system. While they may be hard to find in regular supermarkets, many take this in powder or capsule form as part of a healthy, balanced diet to reap the benefits.

8. Legumes

Legumes consist of plants that produce a pod that contains seeds inside, and it’s the seeds we eat. Common legumes you can incorporate into your diet include lentils, peas, chickpeas, beans, soybeans and peanuts.

9. Wholegrains

Bioactive compounds found in whole grains such as whole oats, buckwheat and quinoa, strengthen the immune system, making them an essential element to your meals.

Eating all or some of these foods daily is a great way to boost your immune system and take care of your gut, but things like ensuring you get regular exercise and limit your refined sugar and carb intake will also add many benefits too.

For more information about gut bacteria and the immune system, visit: https://www.livi.co.uk/your-health/how-your-gut-bacteria-affects-your-immune-system/

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