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Shepherds Health

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Shepherds Health

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Eating and immunity

By Admin
Thursday, February 18, 2021

Eating to boost our immunity

Due to our environment becoming a fairly hostile place of late, the rise of anxiety led behaviour leads straight into our health.

If our anxiety levels increase, our body secretes more adrenaline/cortisol, resulting in an increase of metabolised muscle and liver glycogen (IL1, IL2, IL6, IL10). This increase in uptake of glycogen, if a carbohydrate deficient diet is in existence, puts us under high risk of infection due to the immunosuppressive effects of cortisol. In this scenario, excessive levels of cortisol can lead to decreased glutamine concentration (which regulates T and B-helper cell production), suppression of antibody production and decreased lymphocyte and NK cell activity (pathogen killing cells).

The importance of glycogen to our immune response is therefore paramount. Neglecting this, albeit very easy with the fast food just a few taps on your phone away from sorting your rumbling stomach of an evening, will not bolster our chances of fighting a virus.

If a pathogen (such as Covid-19) enters the body, our innate immune system, rapidly rallies to combat the foreign pathogen, activating our adaptive immune system and removing/destroying it via phagocytosis. If we think about phagocytosis as PacMan, and the pathogen as the carrots, our pathogen eating PacMan cannot operate as well on a reduced glycogen intake, if our carbohydrate intake is low - something we have the power to change with what/how we ingest daily.

Eating to boost our immunity

Dietary ingestion of carbohydrate, metabolised as glycogen, coupled with the ingestion of protein increases our bodies secretion of glutamine, a non-essential amino acid responsible for regulating T-lymphocyte cell activity (CD3+. CD4+ CD8+), B-lymphocyte cells and immunoglobulins (IgM, IgL, IgE). These cells are our immunity troops on the frontline, facing the enemy, therefore it is important that we have sufficient ‘soldiers’ to do the fighting for us. The ingestion of protein is also beneficial for enhancing host immunity and allowing the T-helper cell system to fight off previously located infection.


Nutritional Advice:

  • Maintain a well-balanced diet.
  • Ensure carbohydrate and protein intake is adequate - (3-10g of carbohydrate per kg of body weight, depending on intensity and duration of daily exercise).

    Sources of Carbohydrate include: rice, potatoes, couscous, fruit, pasta.
    Sources of Protein include: eggs, poultry, fish, meat, pulses, beans, nuts.
    It is important to note that not all carbohydrates and proteins are equal, differing in glycemic index scores/oxidization processes and amino acid profiles respectively.

  • Vitamin A, B12, C, D and E intake, ideally organically through food and sunlight.

    Source of Vitamin A: liver, fish, dairy, eggs, oranges, tomatoes, green vegetables.
    Source of Vitamin B12: meat, fish, eggs, dairy, fortified cereal.
    Source of Vitamin C: citrus fruits, green vegetables, potatoes, berries, broccoli.
    Source of Vitamin D: liver, eggs, fish, sunlight.
    Source of Vitamin E: eggs, whole grain cereal, seed oils.

  • Ensure you are getting enough zinc, magnesium and copper.

    Sources of zinc include: shellfish, beef, liver, whole grains, spinach
    Sources of Magnesium include: seafood, nuts, yoghurt, green vegetables.
    Sources of Copper include: meat, fish, eggs, banana, avocado, legumes, broccoli.

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