We are constantly exposed to organisms such as bacteria, viruses and fungi on a minute by minute basis, they can be inhaled, swallowed, or inhabit our skin and mucous membranes. Whether these organisms cause disease is determined by the genetic make-up of the organism in question and the integrity of host defence mechanisms, which form our immune system.
It is well established in scientific research that certain aspects of nutrition such as intake of fibre-rich foods, the health of the intestinal microbiome and omega-3 fatty acids have the ability to influence the immune system.
Immune support by micronutrients is historically reported to be based on vitamin C deficiency and supplementation. It has since been established that the intricate details of the immune system require a balance in multiple specific micronutrients, including vitamins A, D, C, E, B6, and B12, folate, zinc, iron, copper, and selenium. These nutrients play vital roles at every stage of the immune response.
Beta-carotene is abundant in yellow, orange, green and red fruits and vegetables. Beta carotene is an important dietary compound and an important source of vitamin A. Research has linked beta carotene intake with various health benefits.
Foods Rich in Beta-carotene
Selenium acts as a powerful antioxidant to help boost the immune system. Selenium, by the same mechanism, may reduce your risk of certain cancers .
Foods Rich in Selenium:
Berries: Berries are rich in phytonutrient compounds which contribute to a healthy immune system, specifically antioxidants called anthocyanidins which help support the immune system. They are also a great source of vitamin C and zinc, nutrients which work synergistically to support the immune system. Try some acai or goji berries for an extra potent immune boost. Black elderberries stop cold and flu viruses from entering our cells. Medicinal mushrooms contain beta-glucans to boost the immune system
1 Parkin, J. Cohen, B. et al. (2001) ‘An overview of the immune system’. Lancet. 357(9270):1777-89.
2 Venter, C. Eyerich, S. Sarin, T. et al. (2020) ‘Nutrition and the Immune System: A Complicated Tango’. Nutrients. 19;12(3):818.
3 Gombart AF, Pierre A, Maggini S. A Review of Micronutrients and the Immune System-Working in Harmony to Reduce the Risk of Infection. Nutrients. 2020 Jan 16;12(1):236.
4 Puspitasari, I. M. Abdulah, R. Yamazaki, C. et al. (2014). ‘Updates on clinical studies of selenium supplementation in radiotherapy’. Radiation oncology (London, England), 9, 125.
Please note that the information contained within this website does not and should not replace medical advice, and is not intended to treat or diagnose. We always recommend you consult with your doctor. Our Nutritional Therapy team is highly trained and we offer one to one Nutritional Therapy Consultations, which are designed to be complementary to any medical treatment from a functional medicine approach, as well as offering a preventative & optimal health focus.