Receipt No 1: It has more than just vitamin C
All macronutrients (carbs, protein and fats) – and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) are essential for both innate (first line of defense) and adaptive immunity (body’s ability to recognize and defend itself against specific pathogens or foreign substances).
Different nutrients work together to help immune cells grow, work better, and communicate with each other, which is important in fighting infections.
Reference: Tourkochristou et al (2021). The Influence of Nutritional Factors on Immunological Outcomes. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.665968
Receipt No 2: No guts, no immunity
The foods we eat affect the diversity and composition of bacteria in the gut, which in turn affect immune cells. Dietary fibers impact the intestinal barrier, immune cells, and the production of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) that help maintain the balance of the gut microbiome and regulate immune function.
In fact, adults who consume plant-based diets have a lower risk of developing severe COVID-19, which may be related to their increased fiber intake.
Reference: Venter et al (2022). Role of dietary fiber in promoting immune health—An EAACI position paper. https://doi.org/10.1111/all.15430
Receipt No 3: Run away from red flags
Eating a diet that is limited in variety and lower in nutrients can have a negative impact on your immune system.
If your diet is primarily high in trans-fat, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates and low in fruits and vegetables, your intestinal microorganisms may get disrupted, resulting in chronic inflammation of the gut and associated decrease in immunity.
Reference: Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health. Nutrition and Immunity. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/
Overall, a diet that is adequate in fiber, plant-based food and less in unhealthy fats support a healthy immune system.
Practical tip: Build your immune-boosting Pinggang Pinoy:
- Grow – some days we eat plant-based protein (beans, seeds, nuts and legumes), some days we eat animal-based protein (fish, chicken or lean meat, in moderation)
- Glow – colorful array of local fruits and vegetables
- Go – fiber-rich whole grains (brown rice, whole corn kernel, rolled oats), root crops and tubers (potato, kamote, gabi, ube).
- Keep portion sizes in check by looking the spaces occupied by Go, Grow and Glow foods on your plate.
Start today by eating more nutrient-rich carbohydrate foods. For example, 1 medium-sized potato contains fiber, protein, potassium, iron, vitamin C and vitamin B6. Have some boiled or baked potatoes (better with skin!) as your main carbohydrate source to boost your meal’s nutrient profile. Don’t forget your veggies, lean or plant-based protein, and end your meal with fruit as dessert. Your gut and immune cells will thank you.
This post is sponsored by Potatoes USA – Philippines. All opinions stated above are my own and references are indicated in the full article.