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Eating fit

We are all looking for ways to stay healthier for longer, especially as we age. One way to do that is to support your immune system through a robust diet. But is it actually possible to eat your way to better immunity?

In this 5-minute read we will explore foods that help and harm your body’s natural resistances. Our top 20 superfoods for the over 50s is also well worth a read.

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How does the immune system work?

According to MedlinePlus, “Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues, and organs. Together they help the body fight infections and other diseases. When germs such as bacteria or viruses invade your body, they attack and multiply. This is called an infection. The infection causes [a] disease that makes you sick. Your immune system protects you from the disease by fighting off the germs.”

Vaccines and disinfectants can help in many cases, but you have a vested interest in keeping your immune system functioning at 100%.

Photo credit MedlinePlus

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Your immune system is your first and best line of defence against diseases.

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Foods that benefit the immune system

When planning your diet to help your immune system, the key is variety. Your body needs a good mix of vitamins and minerals to support proper function. Harvard University suggests, “Each stage of the body’s immune response relies on the presence of many micronutrients. Examples of nutrients that have been identified as critical for the growth and function of immune cells include vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein (including the amino acid glutamine).”

They also suggest that a mix of probiotics like yoghurt, kefir, kombucha and prebiotics like asparagus, onions and leeks are needed to keep your gut bacteria healthy. That gut biome influences the effectiveness of your immune system too.

Essentially, a varied diet of meats, fish, beans, greens, fruit and veg can help to maintain a healthy immune system.

Try our Strawberry, watermelon and mint smoothie for a boost in the mornings (or at any time of the day really!).

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Superfoods are packed with more micronutrients per gram so they can be very helpful in combating some of the changing impacts of age. Read our top 20 superfoods to include in your diet to see overall nutritional improvement.

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Foods to avoid

If it’s overly processed, packed full of sugar or fried, it is not helping your immune system.

Healthline says we should be avoiding sugar, very salty foods, processed meat, fried foods and charred meats, fast food and refined carbs.

Not only can foods that are low in nutrients damage the immune system, but when we fill up on unhealthy foods we have less room in our diets for proper food items. Now, that does not mean you cannot treat yourself every now and again, but desserts, junk food and snacks should be the exception, not the rule. If you love snacking and sweets, consider a healthier variety like air fried or baked crisps.

WebMD reports,

“By most measures, air frying is healthier than frying in oil. It cuts calories by 70% to 80% and has a lot less fat."

Or perhaps try a dessert that has some nutritional benefit like those made mostly from whole fruits or with yoghurt. We love these 51 low-calorie options on delish.com.

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Always check with your GP

As with any changes to your diet or exercise in later llife, it’s best to speak to your GP before making any adjustments. They will be able to advise on how your medications or conditions may interact with new food choices. Plus, they can also make some food suggestions relevant to your own personal medical history.

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Follow more of our health and fitness guidance and experiences from our Audley Club Managers, property owners and Audley Club members.