Foods to Support your Immune System (COVID-19)
Learn what foods to eat in order to support your immune system:
- Eat 1-2 pieces of citrus fruits per day: grapefruits, oranges, tangerines, clementines, lemons, limes, etc, to get your Vitamin C requirements. Vitamin C is essential for supporting your immune system as it is an antioxidant and plays an important role in fighting infections.
- Fill half your plate at lunch/dinner with 3-4 different types of vegetables – choosing a variety of different colours helps to ensure you get lots of essential nutrients and vitamins.
- Vitamins A, C D, E and B all play a key role in supporting your immune system – To ensure you get these vitamins every day, eat a range of different coloured fruit and vegetables. No colour is more important than the other, including red (bell peppers, tomatoes, beetroot, etc), yellow (yellow pepper, squash, pumpkin, etc) and green (spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc)
- Cut back on packaged foods such as biscuits, cakes, and on the go “healthy” breakfast bars. Packaged and fast foods usually contain high amounts of refined sugar and solid fats. Cutting back on these will help to reduce inflammation and support your immune system.
- Limit your intake of processed foods, salts, sweets and alcohol. Even those low-calorie soft drinks that contain artificial sweeteners should be avoided. All these types of foods increase inflammation in your body which causes your immune system to be activated.
Foods to Support your Immune System (COVID-19): The Key Points
- Your immune system is your very own 24-hour surveillance system. While there is no evidence that a certain diet or food supplement can protect you against COVID-19, there is evidence to show that a diet rich in plant-based foods can support your immune response to infections and viruses.
- Protein rich foods such as eggs, fish, lean meat and beans are essential for increasing the response of certain immune cells, allowing your body to be alert and fight infections. Low protein intake below the daily recommendation has been shown to increase risk of infection1.
- Your gut health plays a crucial role in regulating your immune response. A diet that is rich in plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables and wholegrains are high in fibre and also rich in nutrients which help support your gut and immune system.
- Iddir, M., Brito, A., Dingeo, G., Fernandez Del Campo, S.S., Samouda, H., La Frano, M.R., and Bohn, T. (2020). “Strengthening the Immune System and Reducing Inflammation and Oxidative Stress through Diet and Nutrition: Considerations during the COVID-19 Crisis.” Nutrients. 12(6):1562.