Food and mood | Wellbeing

Good food choices to keep you well

Qualified nutritionist and Family Tree member Karen Maude has more health eating tips to help boost your immune system

By Callum Campbell · Published: November 1, 2020

Salad and fruit on a table

Take the opportunity to boost your health by optimising the food and drink you put into your body. We rely on our immune system to fight off infections and although there’s no magic wand, it’s good to know that there are a number of nutrients and foods which can help strengthen our immune system.

Nutrients that support your immune system

  • Vitamin C
    One of the best known nutrients for fighting infection and supporting your immune system, there is extensive research to support vitamin C’s many effects on health.
  • Zinc
    Shown to support our immunity, multipurpose zinc is involved in numerous body functions, but many people especially the elderly are deficient for reasons such as low soil levels, stress and poor digestion.
  • Vitamin D
    Vitamin D is a hormone produced when skin is exposed to sunlight, but factors such as weight and skin colour can affect our production and at least 1 in 5 of us have low levels, which can impact on our immunity, mood and energy levels.
  • Selenium
    Another mineral we often find ourselves low in due to diminishing soil levels is selenium which plays a key role in our defence against viral infections with research demonstration our immune response is connected to selenium intake.

Eat Nutrient Dense Food

Think fruit and vegetables, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, good fats such as olive oil and oily fish and mix it up. Don’t eat the same meals every day and enjoy a variety of flavours and colours from purple beetroot to orange mango and green kale to diversify the nutrients you take in. Here is a list of immune system supporting foods to get you started:

Fruit and vegetables (fresh or frozen)
Wholegrains e.g. oats, brown rice and brown bread
Fermented foods e.g. kefir and sauerkraut
Oily fish
Garlic, turmeric, ginger, parsley
Good fats e.g. olive oil, avocado and oily fish
Mushrooms
Legumes e.g. chickpeas, beans and lentils
Nuts and seeds

Put It Into Practice

Breakfast: Porridge with blueberries and pumpkin seeds
Lunch: Italian tomato and bean soup
Dinner: Kale and mushroom risotto with roasted chicken breast
Pudding: Watermelon
Snacks: mixed nuts, fruit, smoothies

Smoothies are a great way to pack nutritious foods into your day in one easy move. The golden rule is to aim for 2/3 vegetables and 1/3 fruit. Try a nutrient rich green smoothie made of spinach, cucumber, almonds, kiwi and apple or a purple health promoting concoction of berries, beetroot and celery to support blood pressure.

Immune-boosting smoothie recipe

Ingredients
2 cups of kale or spinach
1 stick of celery
1 cup water
1 handful of frozen mango
50g almonds
1tbsp linseeds
3 fresh mint leaves
1 lime squeezed
2cm piece of ginger

Method

  1. If you have time soak the almonds overnight in water to make it easier for
    your blender to break them up (optional).
  2. Add all ingredients to a blender and blitz.

by Karen Maude, qualified nutritionist and WellChild Family Tree member, and Chloe French, WellChild Family Membership and Engagement.

chloefrench@wellchild.org.uk

First published November 2020

Reviewed April 2021

Next review due September 2021