What you need to know about diet & immunity

Healthy hacks to help your immune system stay in shape

We all know what we eat and drink is super important when it comes to, well, pretty much everything. From how much shut-eye we get, to keeping our energy levels up throughout the day, food and drink = fuel. But did you know our diet also plays a big part in keeping our immune system functioning normally? Yep, a well-balanced diet and a healthy immune system go together like yin and yang.

If you’re a novice at nutrition or just want a quick immunity and diet refresher, we’re serving up a starter of science and a side dish of healthy eating tips and tricks. Bon appetit!

What is the immune system?

First up on the menu, a crash course on the immune system. Made up of cells, tissues, and organs, our immune systems help protect us from unfamiliar cells like pesky bacteria and viruses every single day – cool, right? Without an immune system, we wouldn’t be able to protect our bodies, so keeping in good shape matters – and that’s where diet comes in.

D is for diet

No, we’re not talking about that word, we’re talking about diet – the foods (and drinks) we have every day. You might remember from secondary school biology lessons (or not, we won’t judge) that eating a well-balanced and healthy diet is super-duper important for lots of things. A healthy diet looks like this:

• Eating at least five portions of fruit and veg every day

• Basing your meals around starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta

• Having dairy or dairy alternatives

• Eating some beans, pulses, fish and eggs

• Eating protein such as chicken, meat or vegetarian alternatives

• Choosing unsaturated oils and spreads

• Drinking six to eight glasses of fluids a day – non-alcoholic, of course!

How are diet & immunity linked?

There’s no magic food (yep, that includes superfoods) that will help give you immunity to infections and viruses, although a vaccine can help you do that. One of the key ways to help keep your immune system ticking over nicely is by eating a healthy and balanced diet. When your immune system functions normally, it’s able to help you fight off things like a common cold.

So, how do I make changes to what I eat and drink every day to help my immune system’s health? Well, we’re glad you asked! We’ve penned some quick tips and tricks to get you on your way.

Follow the five-a-day rule

Almost all fruit and veg count towards your five-a-day (hooray) so getting enough of the healthy stuff may be a lot easier than you think! And the best bit? Fruit and veg is packed with vitamins and minerals that are great for immune system health.

If buying fresh fruit and veg is tricky, fear not! Frozen or tinned fruit and veg will get the job done just as well – just try to choose tinned goods that have no added sugar. Want to know more about squeezing in your five-a-day? Of course you do, so check out our easy ways to manage what you eat.