Susie Burrell

‘your food, your body, your life’

A focus on immunity this winter

This is a sponsored post, brought to you by Mayver’s.

There is plenty to be read on diet and immune function at present, thanks to both the cooler winter temperatures and the continuation of COVID infections in Australia. Eating to support immune function is not about mega dosing the Vitamin C or drinking nothing but fresh juice. Rather, optimising the body’s ability to fight infections is about developing strong daily nutrition habits that tick the box on the key foods and nutrients intricately involved in immune function. So, if you are keen to keep as healthy as possible over the next few weeks, here are the key steps to take.

1. Tick the box on your key vitamins

When it comes to vitamins, and vitamins C, A and E in particular which play key roles in immune function, you cannot go wrong if you focus on getting multiple serves of brightly coloured fresh fruits and veges every single day. Generally speaking, the brighter the colour of the fruit or vege, the higher its vitamin content – think richly coloured beetroot, capsicum, eggplant, kale, spinach, oranges, berries, carrots and sweet potato. Simply adding a mixed vege juice to your breakfast, including a couple of cups of veges, salad or soup with lunch as well as bulking up your dinner with 2-3 cups of mixed veges are easy ways to significantly increase your intake of these key vitamins.

2. Don’t forget the importance of gut health

The more we understand about gut health, the more we come to realise that the health of our gut plays a crucial role in our health and immune function overall. This means that nourishing the gut with 30g of dietary fibre each day is crucial. In addition, adding in probiotics via fermented dairy or drinks such as kombucha and then feeding these good bacteria with prebiotic rich foods such as rye, BarleyMax and fibrous veges including artichoke, onions and garlic, supports digestive health and ultimately immune function. There is also a growing range of products that offer both prebiotic fibres and live cultures such as Mayver’s Probiotic Peanut Butter that can be used to boost your intake of these important nutrients.

3. Focus on iron and zinc

While we often think of foods rich in vitamins to help ward off bugs, two of the key nutrients that directly support immune function, iron and zinc are notoriously low in the diets of many Australians. It may also be useful to know that meat eaters need to consume red meat at least 2-3 times each week to ensure the body has access to enough sources of iron that are well absorbed. Zinc too is important and can be found in meat, shellfish, nuts and seeds including pumpkin seeds or pepitas. Ideally Australian adults need to consume foods rich in zinc every day. Or a daily serve of a spread that contains a mix of nuts and seeds like Mayver’s Super Spreads will boost your intake of these essential nutrients.

4. Keep well hydrated

Dehydration is surprisingly common in Australian adults, and dehydration will exacerbate symptoms such as congestion and a runny nose. As such maintaining a high intake of fluids is one of the easiest ways patients can support immune function via low calorie options including 100% veggie juices, herbal or infused teas or plain water. Adults will need at least 1.5L to 2L of fluids each day, even when it is cold outside, and you may not feel overly thirsty.

5. Add in some soup

While soup has been associated with immune function for many years, specifically it is soup made using bone broth that has been shown to have immune related benefits. Specifically, bone-based broth contains carnosine, a molecule that has been shown to help the body’s immune system to fight the early stages of flu by inhibiting the migration of infected cells around the body. Getting back to basics and making your own stock from leftover bones, and then using them to make a weekly batch of vege rich soup is one of the most nutrient rich meals to enjoy regularly throughout winter.