Five Tips To Boost Immunity That Also Help Your Weight Loss
1. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
Fruit and vegetables are high in immune-boosting vitamin C. They also contain phytonutrients (plant nutrients) which support your immune system. Aim to eat a rainbow of colours daily.
Red and orange fruit and vegetables and dark green vegetables contain betacarotene, which your body converts into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps maintains the integrity of your cell membranes, helping prevent viruses from entering your cells. Without a host cell the virus can’t function. It needs to get into your cells to replicate.
Garlic and mushrooms, particularly shiitake mushrooms, are known for their immune-boosting properties.
Fruit and vegetables are also great when it comes to weight loss. They are high in vitamins, minerals and fibre which can help you feel less hungry.
2. Include fermented foods to support your beneficial gut bacteria
Your gut bacteria play an important role in your immune system. They also play a role in your weight. Your gut contains lots of different types of bacteria, some of which increase the amount of fat you store. Did you know that slim people have a different balance of gut bacteria from those who carry more weight?
So how do you boost your good bacteria, the ones that don’t encourage weight gain? The ones that support your immune system?
One way is to include fermented foods as they contain probiotics which are these good bacteria. You could have fermented soy, such as miso, tempeh or natto. Fermented dairy includes live natural yogurt, cottage cheese and kefir, a fermented milk drink. Or have fermented vegetables, such as sauerkraut.
3. Spice up your food
Spices boost your immunity and have properties that can help with weight loss.
A recent study found that nations with lower consumptions of spices showed greater number of COVID-19 cases per population. The researchers wrote: “This is not surprising as herbs and spices are well-known to boost immunity...our findings led us to hypothesize that spice consumption plays a role in our ability to fight COVID-19”.
Spices also have a range of properties that can help you lose weight. So for example: Turmeric is anti- inflammatory (obesity is an inflammatory condition); Cinnamon helps control your blood sugar levels which reduces cravings and stops giving your body the message to store fat; Ginger may reduce feelings of hunger; Chilli reduces your appetite and the amount of calories you consume and black pepper increases absorption of nutrients which helps you feel less hungry.
4. Get out in the sunshine
To reduce your risk of viral infection, it is important to have adequate levels of vitamin D. Not only is vitamin D essential for your immune system, low levels are associated with increased risk of obesity.
Yet despite the importance of vitamin D, deficiency is common. Our main source of vitamin D is sunlight on skin - so enjoy the sunshine, but don’t let your skin burn. (Sunscreen blocks vitamin D production by your skin and if you live in the UK, your skin can’t make vitamin D from the sun in the autumn or winter. If you have darker skin you also are less able to produce vitamin D from sunshine). Oily fish and eggs are good food sources of vitamin D.
5. Reduce sugar
Sugar impairs your adaptive immunity, leading to reduced defence against viruses. It can also make it harder for you to lose weight. Not only is sugar inflammatory and high in calories, it can also trigger you to overeat, particularly high sugar and high fat foods.
When you bring your body (your biochemistry) into balance, you set up the conditions for lasting weight loss. You also boost your immunity and your overall health and energy.
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