Nutritious diets, regular exercise, good-quality sleep – all of these habits can help bolster your immune strength as we head into the holiday season. But because we could all use a little extra help right now, we connected with allergist and immunologist Heather Moday, M.D., to get her most up-to-date tips for supporting your immune response.
Her answer, while simple, surprised us all: “If you really want to do yourself a favour, look at how much fibre you’re getting on a daily basis,” she says.
Why Getting Enough Fibre Is Crucial For Immunity
Let’s share the famous statistic: Approximately 70% of the immune system resides in your gut!
So when gut balance is sub-optimal, this can affect immune function and health.
In fact, your gut microbiome directly influences your immune system.
And what do experts rave about for nourishing your microbiome? You guessed it: fibre, and lots of it.
You see, fibre feeds the good bacteria in your gut. “If those [bacteria] are not fed well, they’re not going to proliferate, and they’re not going to be able to do their job in helping us regulate our immune response,” says Moday.
But here’s the thing about fibre: The majority of Americans simply aren’t getting enough of it. The recommended intake is at least 38 grams per day for men and 25 grams per day for women—but the average American is eating only about 16 grams of fibre per day.
What To Do About It
Moday recommends tracking your daily fibre intake if you can. “Sometimes you just forget or you just have a couple of off days,” she notes.
Once you know your baseline, she suggests adding more fibre-rich foods to your diet: “I love flaxseed. If I’m really busy, I’ll just take a tablespoon of flax and throw it into my smoothie or onto my salad,” she says.
“I [also] like chia seeds, which also have some good benefits for satiety.”
She also touts root veggies like sweet potatoes, purple potatoes, and parsnips, as well as avocadoes and raspberries, “which are surprisingly high in fibre,” she notes.
Getting your fill of these immune-supporting fibres and nutrients is important, but you can also opt for high-quality, targeted supplements that strengthen your immune resilience as well.
Given the gut-immune connection, it’s not difficult to see why fibre has such an impact on your immune strength. But we could all use the friendly reminder: By increasing your fibre intake, you’re feeding the good bacteria in your gut and helping them to reach their full potential. Adding an immune-supporting supplement, will give you for even more targeted benefits.