Nutrition to Enhance Immune Function

Nutrition to Enhance Immune Function

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World cup is nearly over, and we have our finalists: Germany and Argentina. I think there will be a few early risers on Monday morning!

To keep with the theme of 'traditional dishes', where Brazil and Argentina have already been covered, today we are going to Germany and looking at Saurkraut. Why? Fermented cabbage happens to be incredibly good for us.

As many of us know, when we get tired or run down, our immune function suffers. This is particularly important for athletes to remember, as prolonged bouts of physical activity and heavy training are associated with suppressed immune function. So at the tail end of a tournament, or during a long race (such as the Tour de France), maintaining nutrition to enhance immune function becomes increasingly important. Research indicates that protein, zinc, iron, and vitamins A, B6, B12 and E are important to consume in adequate amounts, however excess intake may actually hae detrimental effects.

Research is also starting to indicate the importance of gastrointestinal health and maintenance of the immune system, particularly in athletes.

So where does saurkraut come in? It is a fermented food, and thus adds probiotics into your gastrointestinal tract, which assist with balancing the microflora. Essentially, a healthier gut usually results in a healthier immune system. Other fermented foods include kimchi, kombucha, natto and kefir, along with the well known yoghurts and probiotic supplements. Whilst I wouldn't be recommending saurkraut as a 'pregame' meal, it is a great idea to include as part of a balanced diet, simply due to the health benefits it posseses.

A recipe? Check out this one, or this youtube clip!

Stay tuned for a post about Argentina and a tasty dish!

Chloe McLeod is a dietitian at BJC Health.
This blog focuses on diet & nutrition generally and diet & nutrition in relation to the treatment of arthritis and arthritis-related diseases.
Contact us if you’d like our help in managing diet-related health issues.


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