Food is one of the most powerful tools we have to help prevent disease and this begins with a healthy immune system. Over 70% of your immune system is in your gut and what you eat forms the foundation of your health. Your immune system maintains homeostasis by defending against viruses and bacteria which can cause inflammation in the body, illness and disease. Our body also produces antibodies that can help destroy the virus and assist our body to heal. Nutritional deficiencies can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of infection. Vitamin C, for example, acts like your personal bodyguard, helping to protect cells and assist in healing. There are also studies of the use of vitamin C in the treatment and prevention of the common cold which revealed shorter duration of symptoms and a faster recovery. US studies indicate that vitamin D may also help immune cells identify and destroy bacteria and viruses.
Fresh fruit and vegies are the best sources of vitamins and minerals around, which is why it's so important to eat a good variety every day. Anti-inflammatory ingredients such as garlic, ginger, lemongrass and turmeric are also fantastic to incorporate into your diet as they help the body eliminate toxins, stimulate circulation, aid digestion and boost immune function. Probiotics or fermented foods that contain live micro-organisms (good bacteria) are an excellent addition to when aiming to boost immunity. These foods protect the immune and digestive systems, allowing nutrients to be better absorbed into the bloodstream. Tempeh, miso, kefir, bio-yoghurt and sauerkraut are all good choices.
Top 10 Immune Boosting Foods To Ward Off that Winter Cold or Flu:
- Garlic - antifungal and antibacterial properties that fight infection
- Ginger - promotes gastric motility and works as an anti-inflammatory
- Turmeric - antiviral, anti-inflammatory and potent antioxidant
- Chili - anti-inflammatory, stimulates digestion and helps clear congestion
- Omega 3 fatty acids - (found in salmon, flaxseeds etc.) supports immune system
- Citrus and kiwi fruit - rich in vitamin C which supports immune system
- Pineapple and Papaya - Papaya is rich in beta-carotene which helps protect against infection, both fruits are high in vitamin C and digestive enzymes which help improve absorption of nutrients and are also anti-inflammatory.
- Fermented foods - rich in probiotics which help protect and support both digestive and immune systems. (eg. Yoghurt)
- Protein rich foods - nourishes the immune system, repairs the body and assists in recovery (eg. Fish, chicken, beef, eggs etc.)
- Green super foods - increase alkalinity in the body which promotes healing. (eg. Kale, spinach, leafy greens)