Intermittent fasting and the right diet boost the immune system. This is particularly important in times of the coronavirus and Covid-19. This way you protect yourself against diseases and support your body in its fight against viruses, bacteria and the like. Learn more about the best foods to strengthen your defenses.
A healthy gut for a strong immune system
There is only one health! When have we ever been clearer about this than in these days? The good news is: You can actively do something to strengthen your defenses!
Besides intermittent fasting, staying hydrated, exercising and relaxing, proper nutrition is also a key to a strong immune system.
Studies show that a one-sided and unbalanced diet with lots of sugar and bad fats from fast food and convenience products makes us more susceptible to infections. These often turn out to be even more severe and lengthy.
What’s the reason behind? Our body needs the right nutrients to fight pathogens fast and effectively. Particularly important is a healthy balance in the gut, where 70% of our immune cells are located!
Foods to boost your immune system
A balanced and healthy diet provides the necessary elements for a strong immune system. Here is some info and advice about which food you should prefer in order to train your immune system and support your body in its work:
Here is a selection of vitamins that are particularly important for strong defenses:
Vitamin A is only contained in animal products, its precursor beta-carotene is also found in plant foods. Both support the skin and mucous membranes in their defence against penetration. Colorful vegetables like carrots or spinach, but also apricots, eggs or calf’s liver are rich in it.
B vitamins have been proven to affect the immune system directly and positively. You can find B6 in potatoes, bananas, lentils or spinach, B9 (folic acid) is hidden in chickpeas, red beans, green or Brussels sprouts and lamb’s lettuce. B12 is only found in significant amounts in animal foods, so it is advisable to supplement vitamin B12 in a vegan diet.
Vitamin C stimulates the production of immune cells and also protects healthy cells. Citrus fruits, berries, peppers, broccoli and kale are particularly rich in vitamin C.
The body can produce vitamin D itself. But only if you expose your skin to sufficient sunlight. Among food, only fatty fish and cod liver oil contain significant amounts of vitamin D. In summer, you should therefore spend about 15 minutes per day in the sun or twice as much time in the shade, your skin preferably only dressed by about a quarter. In winter, supplementation may be advisable following medical consultation.
Vitamin E stimulates the formation of antibodies and protects the cells from free radicals. Hazelnuts, vegetable oils and whole grain products contain considerable amounts of the cell protection vitamin.
A lack of trace elements such as iron, zinc or selenium can lead to a weakened immune system and make the course of a disease more serious and complicated.
Iron plays an important role in blood formation and oxygen transport in the body. Pumpkin seeds, pistachios, lentils, chickpeas, millet, amaranth, quinoa, spinach, fennel or fish and meat (especially offal) contain a lot of iron. The body absorbs iron more effectively during digestion when you combine it with vitamin C.
Zinc is involved, for example, in the division and specialization of body cells. Evidence shows that it does not only help prevent colds, but can also alleviate them, provided it is taken within the first 24 hours after the symptoms appear. Buckwheat, oat flakes, lentils, white beans and oysters are good sources of zinc.
Selenium stimulates the production of antibodies and is also effective against viruses. The selenium content strongly depends on the soil conditions in the cultivation or breeding area, but Brazil nuts in particular are considered to be extremely rich in selenium.
Probiotics and prebiotics
Pre- and probiotics are indispensable for a healthy gut. They ease the transport of food and are also an important source of energy for the good intestinal bacteria. As we remember: Around two thirds of our immune cells are located in the gut!
Excellent sources of prebiotics are cereals, beans, potatoes, apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits as well as chia and linseed. Probiotics are especially high in dairy products (yoghurt, cheese, kefir) and fermented vegetables (pickles, raw sauerkraut, kimchi).
Herbs and spices
Garlic, horseradish, ginger and chili have an antibacterial and antiviral effect and stimulate the immune system. Ingredients from spices and herbs such as cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, thyme, mint and echinacea have anti-inflammatory effects and support the body in its work.
If you are already sick, garlic, chicken soup, green tea, honey and elderberries are highly recommended. They all contain ingredients that work against the pathogens, relieve symptoms and support your immune system. However, make sure you always listen to your body’s signals. If you don’t feel hungry, don’t force yourself to eat. But always make sure you stay hydrated.
Fasting: sustainable nutrition and health
If you want to get the most out of your fruit and vegetables, eat regional and seasonal products, ideally fresh and raw (e.g. as a smoothie or in a salad). Frozen products are also great because shock freezing preserves most of the nutrients.
Intermittent fasting and the right diet boost the immune system. Moreover, you can effectively support your body with really easy actions and help prevent diseases. These include exercise, proper hygiene, good sleep and stress management.
By eating a really healthy diet you not only strengthen your immune system but also do a lot of good to your health in general! A great side effect: It also helps you lose weight! Since a healthy body simply works much better!