Diet can play a fundamental role in the functioning of the immune system. If your diet is poor, this can compromise your immune system and make you more susceptible to colds, flu and ill health. We need a balanced intake of essential vitamins and minerals to keep our immune systems working properly, to provide protection from infections and disease.
Here are the top ten immune boosters:
Garlic is a natural antibiotic. It can help boost the immune system and if taken regularly, it can build up resistance to infection. It is also a decongestant, helping to relieve the symptoms of colds, coughs, and flu.
How can we get the best from it? Let it stand for 10 minutes after crushing or slicing it to allow the antibacterial compounds to develop before being heated for cooking.
How can we use it? Add it to your curry or scatter raw over cooked vegetables.
The volatile oils present in ginger have anti-inflammatory properties which can help ease the symptoms of colds, flu and headaches, whilst also helping to lower the risk of infections.
How can we get the best from it? Peel it carefully – The richest resins and volatile oils are found in and near the skin. Therefore, the best way to peel ginger is by gently scraping the skin off.
How can we use it? Make ginger tea.
Lemons contain a high concentration of vitamin C, which helps white blood cells fight infection and boosts your immunity in general.
How can we get the best from it? Use the peel – it is full of beneficial antioxidants.
How can we use it? Place a slice of lemon, including the peel, into a glass of warm water – start your day with lemon water to cleanse your system.
This cruciferous vegetable has antibacterial and immune-boosting properties. It is rich in antioxidants and contains more vitamin C than many citrus fruits, making it an ideal food to eat to maintain a healthy immune system.
How can we get the best from it? Steam it lightly so it retains its vitamin C and iron content.
How can we use it? Add lightly steamed broccoli to your salad.
The rocket plant is a relative of broccoli and has many of the same benefits, including boosting the immune system and maintaining eye and skin health. Rocket leaves contain very high levels of vitamin C and beta-carotene – these nutrients have proven immunity-boosting properties and help the body to defend itself against infections.
How can we get the best from it? Eat raw and fresh – rocket begins to lose its nutrients soon after picking and heat can further degrade its nutritional value, therefore it is best to buy it fresh and use it as quickly as possible after purchase.
How can we use it? Use it in a salad.
6. Red Bell Peppers
All bell peppers, especially the red ones, contain high levels of the antioxidants vitamin C, beta-carotene and vitamin E, which are vital for a strong immune system and for energy production.
Red peppers contain 3 times as much vitamin C as an orange!
How can we get the best from it? Cook red peppers – it increases their vitamin C levels.
How can we use it? Grill the peppers, juice them or eat them raw.
An average-sized mango contains up to two-thirds of the daily recommended intake of vitamin C, which plays a key role in boosting the immune system and thereby reducing the incidence of colds and flu.
How can we get the best from it? Eat as fresh as possible.
How can we use it? Add it to your smoothie.
Kiwis contain large amounts of vitamin C which contributes to good skin health, whilst also boosting immunity and fighting inflammation. They actually contain more vitamin C than oranges!
How can we get the best from it? Eat it raw.
How can we use it? Add it to a fruit salad.
Probiotics in yogurt have a general immunity-boosting effect and inhibit a range of pathogenic bacteria in the gut.
How can we get the best from it? Keep it live and natural – look for products that state specifically that yogurt is ‘live’, and try to avoid yogurts with artificial flavours and sweeteners.
How can we use it? Mix with fresh berries for an afternoon snack.
10. Black Seed
Black seeds (also known as nigella seeds or kalonji) have antibacterial properties, powerful anti-inflammatory effects on the body and they are full of antioxidants. This means that they can help protect the body from infections, resulting in a stronger immune system.
How can we use it? Grind the seeds and take ¼ teaspoon mixed with natural yogurt.
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Maintaining a healthy lifestyle is essential in preventing illness. Raw fruits and vegetables are great for boosting your immune system. In general, the less refined or processed the food is, the better.
One of the best things you could do right now is to try and include a variety of immune boosting foods to your diet to strengthen your immune system, especially with the recent rise in coronavirus cases. If you missed our last post, where we discussed how we can protect ourselves during this pandemic, you can read it here.