By Coach Lindsay Leigh
What we eat, and don’t eat, can greatly affect our immune system, which is more important than ever right now.
Those who eat more fruits and vegetables appear to have a lower risk of getting an upper respiratory track infections (Watzl et al. 1999).
Even adding just one extra serving a day, like an apple, can help! Cruciferous vegetables in particular, including cabbage, collards, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, and broccoli, are powerful intestinal immunity boosters (Veldhoen and Brucklacher-Waldert, 2012).
Research has also been done on more serious respiratory infections like influenza-related hospitalizations (Charland et al 2013). Low fruit and vegetable consumption had a higher impact on influenza-related hospitalizations than both obesity and physical inactivity, increasing flu-related hospitalization rates by 8 percent.
In another study (Li and Werler, 2010) one thousand women and their diets were followed before and during pregnancy. Women who consumed more fruits and vegetables had a reduction in risk of upper respiratory tract infection during pregnancy, which appears to be derived from both consuming fruits and vegetables instead of either alone. The women who had a reduction were eating close to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day.
Lastly, in a study by Gibson et al (2012), elderly individuals were randomized into groups that ate either 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day or 2 servings a day. The five-a-day group showed an 80% improved antibody response to their pneumonia vaccination compared to the two-a-day group.
So, get those fruits and vegetables in to help boost your immunity. Fresh or frozen are best for maximal nutrient content. Sneak them into everything you eat – smoothies, omelettes, sandwiches, casseroles, etc. Let us know your favorite vegetable or fruit filled recipes! Stay healthy!
- Charland et al 2013. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23136926
- Gibson et al 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23134881
- Li and Werler, 2010. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19552829
- Veldhoen and Brucklacher-Waldert. 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23007570
- Watzl et al. 1999. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10673911
Need help with your daily nutrition and hydration needs? Consider our Nutrition Coaching, with a 10-week program to help you dial in your needs to optimal performance and health.