As winter is fast approaching and we are living in a COVID-19 world, keeping our immune systems up has certainly become front of mind in the recent weeks. While there is certainly no conclusive proof that the food we eat or supplements we take will protect us from infection entirely, it is important to think about ways that we can support and maintain a healthy immune system through our diet.
Eating plenty of immune boosting ingredients is just one of the steps we can take, along with getting enough sleep and regular exercise. A nutritious diet will always help our bodies maintain a healthy immune response to anything that comes our way in terms of colds, flu and viruses.
Here are my top 5 immune boosting ingredients:
Ayurveda (a system of alternative medicine with historical roots in India) has been extolling the benefits of turmeric for hundreds of years and with good reason. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and importantly contains anti-oxidant properties which help boost immunity.
The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to have potent immunomodulatory effects, directly enhancing the immune activity, when exposed to virus’ and pathogens. Its effective anti-oxidant action supports the immune system during times of stress and illness.
Try: To get some turmeric into your day try making a turmeric latte using warm milk, honey and cinnamon and TurmeriX powder or if you prefer supplements you can try TurmeriX capsules.
By now most of us have heard about the benefits of pre and probiotics for gut health, but did you know they also assist in boosting immunity? In fact, 70% of the immune system resides in our gut, so it’s essential to support this system. An abundance of varied strains of bacteria living in our digestive tract provides natural immune support.
Try: Prebiotic foods include, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, unflavoured yoghurts, apple cider vinegar, artichokes, chicory root, garlic, onion, asparagus, dandelion greens, banana and flaxseeds.
VITAMIN C/BIOFLAVONOID CONTAINS FOODS
Arguably the queen of immune boosting ingredients – Vitamin C is our winter go-to for its anti-microbial activity and immune supporting functions.
Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the number of days sick when struck down with a virus, while bioflavonoids enhance the action of Vitamin C and possess anti-oxidant effects.
Although citrus has a high percentage of Vitamin C, I often tell my patients to choose foods high in both Vitamin C and flavonoids. Be sure to eat the pulp and white core of these citrus fruits and veggies for their bioflavonoid benefits.
Try: Red, green or yellow capsicum, sweet potato, kiwifruit, papaya, berries, broccoli and kale.
Zinc is the quiet immune boosting achiever that often gets overlooked. Zinc is required for numerous processes in the immune system. If deficient, this may lead to a compromised immune function and increased susceptibility to illness.
Try: Non-processed meat, shellfish, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), seeds (hemp, pumpkin, sesame, squash), nuts (cashews, almonds, pine), eggs, whole grains (quinoa, rice, oats).
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Apple Cider Vinegar is one ingredient that has a lot to give. Not only does it enhance digestion and the assimilation and absorption of nutrients, it also alkalises once digested.
Apple cider vinegar has an antibacterial action, as it supports our lymphatic system to excrete pathogens and viruses swiftly from our body, via its supportive action on our detoxification pathways.
Try: 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in warm water, or combine with olive oil as a salad dressing.