Boost your natural immunity with Apple Cider Vinegar
The old adage of ‘eat 5-a-day’ is a good place to begin the quest for increasing your natural immunity.
The strength of our immune system is interlinked with our gut health. The greater the number of diverse plant foods that our bodies digest maximises the type, and quality, of bacteria in our intestine resulting in a healthy immune system. The NHS tells us that '70% of immune function resides in the gut and a healthy digestion is important for a healthy immune system'.
The cider vinegar boost!
Apple Cider Vinegar, that has been slow fermented from real cider apples, can give your immune system a boost, not only because it is prebiotic, but it also contains and a healthy mix of fibre, acids, vitamins and minerals.
Prebiotics are the fibre you need to feed the gut flora in your digestive tract. Enzymes found in ACV, as well as pectin fibre from the whole crushed cider apples, help support the growth of good gut bacteria. The antibacterial properties of ACV will also help to combat pathogens in the body.
The diversity of plant foods really is the keyWhen it comes to improving our immune system, the diversity of plant foods we consume really is the key. By eating the same five or six vegetables every week you are ignoring literally billions of microbes in your gut that can contribute to your health.
The key figure is to consume 30 different types of plant food each week. This seems like an unattainable figure to begin with, but once you start to make the effort it is easier than you think! There are also lots of supplementary plant foods that will help to boost your numbers: snack foods like pumpkin and sunflower seeds, and the spices that you add to your cooking which are all derived from vegetable sources, like turmeric root or coriander seeds.
From a scientific perspective, it appears that mixing up the plant foods we eat exposes the body to different mixes of dietary fibre and key nutrients, which in turn plays a key role in maximising the types and quality of bacteria in the gut.
"To boost our immune system it is recommended that we eat from at least thirty different vegetable sources every week. The small amounts of trace nutrients found in spices and cider vinegar will add to, and complement, your plant based intake - they are known as Phytonutrients."
What does the NHS say?
According to advice from NHS Leeds, 'eight portions of fruit and vegetables a day is a basic minimum, not something to aspire towards! A diverse diet increases microbiota diversity ("good" bacteria in the gut) and research shows this is associated with improved markers of health including lower inflammatory markers and reduced frequency of infection. Aim for 30 different types of vegetables per week and also vary your sources of protein (meat, fish, beans, pulses, eggs, dairy etc), fat and carbohydrate as much as possible'.
Eating a diverse range of vegetables alongside whole grains, and pulses will also provide a diet rich in fibre which also helps to feed microbiota diversity. We need to eat at least 30g of dietary fibre each day (an average sized carrot contains about 5g), according to the British Diabetic Association the average adult in the UK only eats 18g of dietary fibre daily.
Spices are made from plant leaves, seeds and roots and the plant chemicals they contain are known as phytonutrients.
Real cider vinegar also provides a phytonutrients boost, but it has to be pure cider apple juice, slow fermented vinegar (for several years) – supermarket cider vinegar will not do!