Top 10 Immunity Boosting Foods
With the end of the year fast approaching our energy levels are often low an our list of things to get done just seems to get longer by the day. This combination usually means a drop in immunity and the onset of stubborn coughs and colds.
Including some key immunity boosters in your daily diet will help to ensure you keep your immune system strong and healthy so you can keep enjoying the fun of the season.
Here are our top 10:
1. Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C is a natural immunity booster, increasing the production of white blood cells, which are needed to fight infections. All citrus fruit contain good levels of this vitamin so choose from grapefruit, lemons, oranges, limes and clementines. Be sure to include these on a daily basis as the body doesn’t store vitamin C so levels need to be regularly topped up.
If you’re suffering with a cold, add lemon juice and honey to tea for a comforting hot drink.
2. Red Capsicum
Not only does red capsicum contain high levels of vitamin C, it is also a rich source of beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. Healthy levels of vitamin A are needed for our immune function, healthy skin and mucus membranes, and good vision and eye health.
One of the healthiest vegetables available, broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, together with several other antioxidants and fibre. To ensure you get the highest levels of nutrients, cook for as little time as possible or better still, enjoy raw with a dip.
Not only a tasty addition to many dishes, garlic is found in almost every cuisine across the world. Even early civilizations recognised the value of garlic for fighting infections. Garlic can also help to lower the blood pressure and slow down the hardening of the arteries. A heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin give garlic is immune-boosting punch.
Commonly used to reduce nausea, ginger is another powerful ingredient we often turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, (which can help reduce a sore throat) as well as other inflammatory illnesses. Often used to help decrease chronic pain, ginger can also help to lower cholesterol.
Spinach is not only rich in vitamin C, it is also packed with antioxidants and beta carotene – key infection fighters. Like broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible, helping to retain its high levels of nutrients.
Yogurts with active and live cultures (such as Greek yogurt) help to stimulate the immune system and fight diseases. Stick to plain varieties and sweeten with berries rather than purchasing the pre-sweetened varieties. Also a great source of vitamin D, which helps to regulate the immune system and boost our body’s natural defenses against illnesses.
Sometimes overlooked, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system. Being a fat-soluble vitamin, fat needs to be present to allow it to be properly absorbed. Nuts, especially almonds, are packed with vitamin E as well as healthy fats. Just half a cup of almonds provides 100% of the daily recommended allowance of vitamin E.
A key ingredient in curries, this bitter, bright yellow spice has also been used for many years as an anti-inflammatory in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. In addition, research shows that high concentrations of curcumin (which constitutes tumeric’s distinctive colour) can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage.
10. Green Tea
Both black and green teas are packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Where green tea really excels is in its levels of EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), another powerful antioxidant responsible for enhancing immune function. The fermentation process for black tea can destroy a lot of the EGCG so stick to green or white tea (better still) for higher antioxidant levels. In addition, green and white tea is a good source of the amino acid L-theanine, which helps in the production of germ-fighting compounds in T-cells.