During this time of heightened infection awareness, favorably modulating immune function can be an important strategy for not only reducing the chance of infection, but for potentially reducing the severity of and sequelae from infections. Since modifiable lifestyle factors have a large effect on immune function, the tips below are excellent first steps.
Overall Recommendations: Research indicates that plant-based foods such as those high in phytonutrients, water- and lipid-soluble vitamins, and other antioxidants, as well as dietary fiber, can help downregulate an overactive immune response.
Specific recommendations for patients:
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Aim for 9-13 servings per day of a variety of types for a wide array of phytonutrients to enhance the gut microbiome.
- Consume dietary fiber, a minimum of 28-35 grams daily, preferably from whole foods.
- Eat fermented vegetables or other probiotic-containing foods to maintain epithelial health and gut barrier function.
- Reduce or avoid immune offenders such as added sugars and salt, high-glycemic foods (including processed carbohydrates), and excessive saturated fat.
Food and nutrition are major daily input for health and well-being. There are three mechanisms that may be involved in the ability of food-derived compounds to reduce viral infection and severity:
- Balancing inflammatory pathways.
- Reducing oxidative stress and increasing antioxidant levels.
- Harmonizing the gut microbiome.
Our Functional Medicine services provide the perfect opportunity to favorably impact the immune system and enhance quality of life.