An apple a day could keep the doctor away!
How to support your immune system by increasing your fibre intake
We are slowly coming to the end of Summer and as the days become shorter and cooler, with it comes the dreaded flu season and the need to start implementing strategies to support your immune system. Afterall, no one enjoys getting sick! Colds, flu and infection destroy productivity, get in the way of everyday activities, can cost you money and most of all, leave you feeling lousy.
According to Bianca Tromp, a Dietician for FUTURELIFE®, our immune system is our body’s defense against these unwanted visitors and strengthening it is key to fighting off infections, “You can think of your immune system as an army of cells in your body that try to protect you from all the germs out there. When you get sick, the immune system will fight off the infection. But too often our immune system is weakened by our lifestyles and we end up with the flu.”
So, how can you go about strengthening your immune system? Bianca says that there are many ways to support your immunity; from exercising and getting enough sleep to hydrating and following a healthy diet. One of the simplest ways, she believes, is to increase your fibre intake. “Fibre comes from plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains and beans. There are essentially two types of fibre; soluble and insoluble. When you eat soluble fibre (found in foods such as FUTURELIFE® Smart Oats, apples and carrots) it forms a gel that improves digestion, controls blood sugar levels and reduces cholesterol. Insoluble fibre (found in foods such whole grain cereals, FUTURELIFE® Bran Flakes and lentils) on the other hand, promotes regular bowel health. We need both types of fibre to support our gut health and, in turn, support our immune system,” she says.
Bianca adds that the digestive tract is the largest immune organ as nearly 80% of your immune cells are found in the digestive tract. The health and functioning of the digestive tract immune system is reliant on what we consume. “Probiotics, the beneficial organisms (bacteria) found in your digestive tract, improves gut function. For our immune system to thrive, we need a balance of beneficial bacteria in our gut. That is where prebiotics come in. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates (fibres) that are important for stimulating the growth of beneficial bacteria in our digestive tract. Having an ideal balance of probiotics in the digestive tract can protect you from intestinal infection, reduce potentially harmful bacteria in the gut and stimulate the immune response.”
She also says that in addition to supporting the immune system, fibre has many other benefits including lowering cholesterol, lowering risk for developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. “Our digestive tract is the largest immune organ in our body, so when we improve our fibre intake, we improve many other conditions, and of course, our overall immunity,” Bianca concludes.
Perhaps the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ actually refers to the apple’s fibre content supporting your immunity? Now that’s food for thought…
Photo by Matt Seymour