As with all body systems it is important for our immune system to be in balance. Ideally, we want our immune system to defend us against attack from pathogens and toxins, protect our cells but not overreact to safe stimulus such as foods or our own body. An overactive immune system which leads to too much inflammation can lead to as many problems as an under active immune system. As well as ensuring we have all the nutrients to support our immune system and make white blood cells it is also helpful to reduce inflammation. Diet choices can support this.
Eating a good amount of vegetables and fruit is helpful as these are anti-inflammatory, ideally 8 portions per day. As we have said in other posts have a good variety and eat a rainbow of deep colours for optimum protection. Fruits with particularly powerful anti-inflammatory properties include pineapples and papaya. Eat cruciferous (cabbage-family) vegetables regularly. Ideally eat one of broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, cabbage, spring greens every day.
Herbs and spices are well known for their immune enhancing properties and for reducing inflammation. Add spices to liven up dishes or try having freshly grated ginger or chamomile tea. Add cinnamon in place of sugar to cereals and stir turmeric into rice. Dried spices have a long shelf life and a little goes a long way.
Having too many simple carbohydrates such as sugar or refined foods can cause inflammation as our body needs to rely on hormones such as insulin to manage this which can lead to inflammation as can excess wheat. Instead chose a range of unprocessed whole grains such as brown rice, quinoa, rice and Bulgar wheat, in which the grain is intact or in a few large pieces. Eat more beans, legumes, squashes, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables and avoid products made with high fructose corn syrup.
Saturated fat is inflammatory so reduce your intake of butter, cream, high-fat cheese, chicken skin, and fatty meats. Processed meats such as sausages and ham should also be avoided. Omega 3 reduces inflammation and is found in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, mackerel and anchovies, omega-3 fortified eggs; hemp seeds and flax seeds (preferably freshly ground). You can add ground flax seeds to porridge or sprinkle over your salad. Include avocados and nuts, especially walnuts, cashews, almonds, and nut butters made from these nuts, and use extra-virgin olive oil as main cooking oil.
Decrease your consumption of pro inflammatory animal protein, especially red meat. Try and have one to two meat free days per week, maybe try using lentils and beans in place of mince in a chilli. Sweet potatoes and chickpeas make a good casserole which you can liven up with some spices such as paprika and cumin.