As I always say, the best antibiotic is a healthy immune system. If we build a strong immune system then we are more able to protect ourselves from nasty organisms like the cold + flu viruses.
A healthy diet lays the foundations for a happy immune system, and is the best way to support your internal defense forces. But when it comes to fueling our immunity, what exactly should we put on our plate?
Well, it’s impossible to ignore the role that protein plays. Every process in the body requires protein, particularly our immune system, which relies on having an adequate pool of amino acids available to function properly. Essential amino acids are especially important and we get these from the foods we eat.
So here’s how to get more essential amino acids on your plate…
Isoleucine is needed to produce haemoglobin in red blood cells, which transports oxygen around the body. Low haemoglobin (anaemia) can weaken the immune system. Good sources of isoleucine include grass fed red meat and dairy, Healthy Chef Protein, nuts and seeds.
Valine helps maintain muscle tissue and is involved in the production of immune cells. Foods rich in valine include free range pork, cheese, nuts and spirulina.
Leucine: is involved in regulating immune responses and keeping out external nasties by maintaining skin health and integrity. Leucine rich foods include lentils, beef, peanuts, almonds, grass fed whey protein isolate, seafood, walnuts and eggs.
Lysine is required to make antibodies, the cells our bodies produce to target specific invaders. Red meat, seafood, dairy, legumes, pumpkin seeds, eggs and peas are all high in lysine.
Methionine is used to make important molecules in the immune system and is found in grass fed whey protein isolate, cheese, fish, amaranth and quinoa.
Histidine is essential for managing allergic reactions, with the richest sources including cheese, poultry and red meat.
Phenyalanine is an amino acid that likes to communicate. It’s involved in the production of immune system messenger molecules and is found in foods like lentils, peanuts, almonds, chickpeas, flaxseed and tahini.
Threonine: helps to maintain thymus health, an organ in the body that regulates immune function. Foods that are high in threonine include lentils, whey protein, fish, beef, tahini and eggs.
Tryptophan has anti-inflammatory functions and aids sleep, an important ingredient to healthy immune function! Tryptophan is found in quinoa, lentils, flaxseed and turkey.
For optimum immunity, aim for a good mix of quality protein coupled with plenty of fresh veggies, leafy greens, healthy fats and whole fruit. To work out how much protein your body needs, check out my protein calculator. Don't forget to keep up the regular exercise, get a good night’s sleep and your immune system will thank you!