We know diet is super important when it comes to inflammation in our bodies and the increase or decrease of the immune system… so what food swaps would I recommend making it all the easier?Before getting to those simple 5 swaps let’s talk a little about the basics? the things we got to do regularly:The Immune supporting
Vitamins A, C, E and D, together with iron and zinc are all involved in immune function, so eating foods rich in these nutrients are the way to go. This really means more vegetables, fruit, nuts and sun and sometimes a little extra help through a vitamin C may be a good idea, I recommend an ultrascorb vitamin C powder (link to my vitamin c blog)Avoid the foods that increase inflammation
The foods that we know aren’t good, refined grains, sugary beverages, fried foods and red meat can increase inflammation, a key word that we want to focus on. It sounds easy but not as easy to apply if we are starting off on the back a foot, beginning with high sugary breakfasts (link to my breakfast blog). Chronic inflammation affects many, the pain, the swelling, the autoimmune, the gout…. need I go on… It isn’t only about the weight it’s about the soft drinks, the burgers, the hot fries and sweets on the regular, that will cause the flare up. As a result, our cortisol levels increase, and our immune system is affected.
Don’t forget the added sodium in all of these foods affecting our immune system. Most processed foods contain high amounts of sodium, which doesn’t spell good news for our immunity.
Then there is the most talked about topic in the last decade, our gut health our microbiome, and the huge influence foods have on the bacteria living there. Foods high in fiber, pre-biotics and probiotics are important to this gut planet and a diet high-fat diet may be harmful.
Now that we know some of the ways diet plays a role in helping keep us healthy, let’s check out some simple changes or swaps that make it all much easier to improve the diet without the feeling of guilt and deprivation.
1. Instead of Potato Chips, Try Popcorn or Harvest peas
Potatoes may come from the ground and offer a whole list of vitamins, richin minerals and goodies, but potato chips, don’t share the same benefits. Potato chips are fried and are missing the fiber from the skin making this snack fall to the bottom of the barrel. Popcorn and harvest peas, particularly the organic varieties are a much healthier snack that still deliver on the crunch. Popcorn is a whole grain for starters and a source of polyphenols, and the peas are a vegetable high in antioxidants. What’s more, the popping process doesn’t significantly degrade the antioxidant content in popcorn, and our bodies are able to absorb those antioxidants. Shop for the fresh kernels that you can pop at home and or the organic popped version with no other numbers. Use a high-quality oil like olive oil or avocado oil; avoid less healthy oils like palm oil in the cooking process.
2. Instead of soft drinks, Go for Kombucha
Kombucha is high on profile with its added benefits of improving our gut bacteria, but it can also be an added bonus when needing a sweet flavoured drink, my favourite it the ginger and lemon with a nice flavour and less the sugar of course. Another way to replace the need for sweet flavoured drinks is to enjoy infused flavoured waters or sparkling. By doing this you teach the taste buds to need a more subtle and hint of flavour and reduce the need for the high sugar beverages. Coffee can be our fall back when we need to drink but we need to tread with caution here as we can end up having copious amounts of sugar here.
So instead, try kombucha. It still has some sweetness to it along with the bubbles, but it also packs probiotics, which support your gut health.
3. Go Whole Wheat
This isn’t such a new idea, but it is a good one to be reminded of. White bread was originally whole grainonce upon a time but without the processing steps in between. All the added processing has taken away all the goodness that the nutritious bran and germ have, leaving the bread with very little left. Keeping the grains and the seeds and even going that extra bit further and choosing sourdough will make this swap work to your immune enhancing benefit.Even the high fiber white breads miss out on the goodness that grains offer. The whole wheat is higher in immune-supporting nutrients like vitamins E, fiber and iron compared to refined wheat. Imagine the nutritional value of those seeds and grains have to offer the immune system and also keep the bowels moving nicely….
4. A little more fish
Let’s face it… the last decade has been about protein, protein, protein, but through much more meat and processed meats. Unfortunately, this may have increased higher levels of inflammation and higher cardiovascular risk factors for many. The good news is that we can simply swap red meat for more leaner proteins, such as salmon or other fish in many meals. In the European Journal of nutrition, a 2013 February study linked eating more red meat and increased CPR levels (an inflammatory marker in the body).
Exchanging a red meat such as a Bolognese with a tuna pasta or a beef burger with a tuna or salmon burger are easy and not to mention very cost-effective swaps… both economically and for those inflammatory symptoms.
Go for wild salmon over farmed when you can. Farmed salmon has more calories and saturated fat than its wild counterparts.
5. Instead of a Salty Snack Mix, Nosh on Pistachios
We are definitely not doing our immune system any favours by noshing on the salty snack mixes….. the mini pretzels, rice crackers, gourmet crispy breads or focaccia pieces of bread…. Or even salted nuts high in sodium, saturated fat and refined carbs.
Instead, keep it simple and go for some pistachios and raw pumpkin seeds and raw almonds. They are a great source of healthy fats, fiber and some iron — and the polyphenols inside the nut help to fight inflammation, according to an August 2017 study published in Nutrients. A key ingredient in our smoothie mixes (link to smoothie)
So, to action some starting simple strategies without missing out try these simple ideas.