When considering looking after our immune systems we tend to focus primarily on micronutrients and herbs such as Vitamin C, Zinc, Andrographis and Echinacea to keep our immune systems fit and fighting. Whilst these are incredibly important for our immune health, we tend to forget the importance of our macronutrients, particularly protein. When it comes to protecting your body from billions of bacteria, viruses and germs, protein is crucial!
The primary reason for this is the fact that all of our antibodies that help fight off infection and disease are made of protein. Therefore without an adequate intake of quality protein for your age, sex and weight you won't be able to maintain a healthy immune system.
Proteins are often referred to as the building blocks which are required to repair cells and tissues. The cells of immune system rely on proteins. This indicates that supporting the immune system is one of the most important functions of proteins.
Proteins support the following immune cells:
Lymphocytes These are the protein-rich blood cells which play a major role in keeping us healthy. They are known as white blood cells and are one of body's main types of immune cells.
Cytokines They function as the messengers of immune response. These proteins play the role of turning off and turning on the immune cells. They stimulate immune cells and ensures proper functioning of the immune system.
Phagocytes These proteins play the function of damaging bacteria and viruses, making us healthier and disease-free.
All these cells need protein for survival, and this is how protein is linked to a stronger immunity. Protein is vital to build and repair body tissue and fight viral and bacterial infections. Immune system powerhouses such as antibodies and immune system cells rely on protein.
Eating the right amount of quality protein also protects our immune system by:
- Maintaining heart health
- Maintaining respiratory health
- Speeding up recovery after exercise
- Improving mood and boosting resistance to anxiety and depression which can often creep up in the colder months.
How much protein should you be having per day?
These are the official government recommendations:
Women 19-64yrs 45g/day or 0.8g/kg of body weight*
Women >64yrs 46.5g/day or 1g/kg of body weight*
Pregnancy 51g/day or 1g/kg of body weight*
Lactation 56g/day or 1.2g/kg of body weight*
Men 19-64yrs 55.5g/day or 0.8g/kg of body weight*
Men >64yrs 53.3g/day or 1g/kg of body weight*
*Please note that these are the minimum requirements recommended for healthy individuals with a sedentary lifestyle. If you have an active lifestyle or any health concerns (e.g. kidney disease, diabetes) you may have different requirements of protein. If you would like further guidance on this please contact your preferred health profession or qualified Dietician/Nutritionist.
Where should I get my protein from?
If you feel like you are struggling to get enough protein in your diet there are a number of different way to increase your intake in the form of lean meat, fish, poultry, eggs, unsweetened dairy products, legumes, nut, seeds and quality protein supplements.
Clean Lean Protein
Clean Lean Protein is such a quick, easy and healthy way to boost your daily protein intake. With 20g of premium quality, highly digestible and absorbable protein in every serve it is the perfect addition to smoothies, pancakes, sweet and savoury bakes goods. It also mixes so easily with water to form a smooth texture and creamy flavour without any additives or artificial ingredients.
Available in 250g, 500g and 1kg tubs as well as single serve sachets perfect for your handbag, gym bag or suitcase.