What to eat to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses
One of the things my nutrition clients are asking me at the moment is what to eat to reduce the risk of respiratory illnesses such as colds, flu and of course the big ‘C’! As we get nearer to Winter then respiratory illnesses always spread more easily. With the events of this year though it has never been more important to focus on optimising our immunity.
Often nutrition advice focuses on the micronutrients in food. Minerals such as zinc, iron and selenium play a key role in supporting a healthy immune response. So too do Vitamins A, C, B and D and you can read my earlier post here regarding the vital importance of vitamin D. So far, so good, but simply increasing your intake of these nutrients is unlikely to be enough…
The critical role of metabolic health
What is less well understood about immunity, is the vital importance of our metabolic health. There are 5 key perameters governing metabolic health
- A large waist circumference
- Prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes
- Prehypertension or hypertension (high blood pressure)
- High blood triglycerides
- Low HDL cholesterol
What is worrying is that a huge proportion of individuals in the western world have poor metabolic health. It is well established that metabolic issues are present in obese individuals, but up to 40% of people with a healthy weight are metabolically unhealthy. Yes really!
The link between metabolic health and immunity
Metabolic disturbances have been shown to cause chronic low-grade inflammation and are associated with more severe outcomes to infection. This is why some individuals shake off a cold or flu in a few days whilst others are laid low for weeks. You can read more about the problems associated with metabolic imbalance and immunity here
How to eat to improve metabolic health and immunity
The good news is that simple changes can make a significant difference in just a few weeks. What’s more, improving your metabolic health not only helps immunity it also reduces your risk for chronic long term health conditions such as cancer and heart disease.
The first step is to limit or eliminate processed foods. The worst culprits here are sugar, white bread, white rice and pasta as well as hydrogenated vegetable and seed oils found in many packaged products. Instead, aim for a mediterranean style diet rich in plant -based foods, fish, pulses and lots of olive oil.
It’s not just about what you eat though… Intermittent fasting or time-based eating can be hugely important, because it gives your body a break and enables your metabolism to reset. Moderate exercise is also very beneficial and can improve stress and sleep which are other vital factors in metabolic health. If you need help with making dietary changes then feel free to contact me for a consultation. Alternatively why not think about a bespoke meal plan to help you stay on track. Let’s do this!