Dr. Ryan Shelton On How Clean-Eating Can Boost Your Immune System

The connection between clean eating and a properly functioning immune system is not fully known to the general public. Clean eating means reducing or eliminating highly processed sweets, snack foods, and other packaged foods from your diet. Eating a diet mainly comprised of healthy ingredients like lean protein, fruit, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains is recommended to round out your clean eating regimen.

What is the connection between clean eating and a healthy immune system? Dr. Ryan Shelton of Zenith Labs examines the aspects of a clean diet that boost the immune system.

The Fundamentals of Clean Eating

When people first realize that they are harming their bodies by ingesting processed foods, refined sugars, white flour, and chemical additives, they may not know where to turn to change their eating plans. The concept of “clean eating” can seem intimidating at first, but the principles are quite simple.

Concentrate on shopping the outer aisles of the grocery store when you want to eat clean. Stay away from the center aisles as much as you can, far from the fatty condiments, salt- and sugar-laden foods, and highly processed meats. Instead, focus your diet on the fresh ingredients you can find in the store. Produce, dairy or dairy substitutes, lean meat, fish, and homemade meals should be your goal.

How What You Eat Impacts the Immune System

If you do not eat a balanced and varied diet, you will be more prone to infection from bacteria and viruses and other problems caused by a weakened immune system. The impact of clean eating on the immune system does not come down to any food or nutrient that could be considered a “magic bullet,” but it focuses on a holistic whole.

Western diets high in red meat and refined sugar and low in vegetables and fruits can cause disturbances in the healthy microorganisms that naturally live in our gut. When these microorganisms are not present, immunity is suppressed.

The body’s microbiome must be nourished to maintain a healthy immune system. The microbiome is comprised of scores of microorganisms living in our bodies, mostly in our digestive system. If you eat a plant-rich, high-fiber diet, you will nurture your microbiome and support natural immunity.

Selected microbes break down fiber into a short-chain fatty acid which can stimulate the immune cells. These fibers are known as prebiotics. Both probiotics and prebiotics may help enhance the function of the immune system. Probiotics include healthy live bacteria, including foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables like kimchi, and kombucha tea. Prebiotic foods include a variety of beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. A few examples are garlic, leeks, asparagus, onions, sunchokes or Jerusalem artichokes, seaweed, and bananas.

Taking Vitamins and Herbal Supplements to Support a Healthy Immune System

Most people know that vitamins A, B6, C, D, and E can help with immune system responses. These antioxidants protect existing healthy cells and support the growth of new immune cells. They also support the cells that create antibodies.

Most healthy adults can get all of the nutrients they need from a clean and varied diet, but certain age groups and other subgroups should consider supplementation.

People from low-income households may live in “food deserts” and have difficulty obtaining affordable, healthy ingredients. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding also need help getting enough nutrients to support their immune system, as do infants and toddlers. Finally, the elderly are nutritionally vulnerable since their immune systems are naturally in decline.

Herbal Supplements that Boost Immunity

When choosing herbal supplements to boost your immunity, Dr Ryan Shelton believes that it is wise to use an evidence-based approach. Echinacea supplementation may offer small protection from catching colds. Garlic and green tea are similarly effective.

In Addition to a Clean Diet

In addition to revamping your diet in accordance with the principles of clean eating, it is wise to look at your other lifestyle factors. Smoking is a major problem for the immune system. Alcohol should only be consumed in moderation. You should exercise regularly at a moderate pace, at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week.

You will need to get enough sleep to preserve the function of your immune system. Most adults need between 7 and 9 hours of sleep. Consistent sleep schedules help our bodies maintain healthy circadian rhythms and preserve periods of deep sleep that are essential to building immune responses.

Stress is another significant external factor that can depress the immune system. In today’s busy world, it is next to impossible to avoid all stress. Stress management techniques are a must. Use exercise, hobbies, and meditation to help yourself feel more balanced and healthy.

Finally, focus on cleanliness. Regular hand washing is one of the keys to good health that is sometimes overlooked, though it has been brought to the forefront by the Covid pandemic.

Solidifying Your Immune System Responses

If you feel that your immune responses have been depressed, it is a good idea to talk to your primary doctor to see whether there are any underlying factors. Whether or not you have underlying factors, it is wise to start a clean eating plan and stop consuming foods that will sabotage your immune responses.

Dr. Ryan Shelton understands that making these lifestyle changes permanent can be challenging, but working toward a healthy body and mind is one of life’s greatest rewards.