By Cheryl Alker
More than ever at the moment we are all looking towards finding foods that are going to boost our immunity.
Whilst there isn’t a silver bullet to ward off chronic diseases or acute illnesses, it is important to keep your body well-nourished so it can support healthy immune functionality to aid your body’s ability to cope with increased stress.
So here is our list of eight top immunity busting foods.
Recent years have shown an emergence of fermented foods. Scientists have discovered the important role gut bacteria plays in our overall health and wellbeing. It obviously makes sense, as 70 percent of our immune cells are actually located right in our gut. It is therefore important to prioritize your gut health. The best foods to encourage healthy bacteria, or probiotics, to populate the digestive tract are:-
Nutrient-Rich Green Leafy Vegetables
Who would have thought that Popeye knew what he was talking about all those years ago? Spinach is literally packed solid with antioxidants. This plethora of antioxidants and nutrients literally work together to fend off disease. In fact adding any leafy green vegetable to your daily diet is an excellent way to promote optimal long term health. Just one cup of uncooked greens contains approximately 25 calories, but deliver Popeye levels of superhuman benefits!
Turmeric is probably, at present, the most celebrated spice due to its incredible health benefits. A member of the ginger family, turmeric contains a naturally occurring phytochemical called curcumin. Curcumin gives the spice its characteristic yellow color and its off the chart health benefits. Boosting immune cell activity is number one. Add a pinch of black pepper to your recipes that contain turmeric to help increase the actual amount of curcumin that gets released into the body.
The majority of us get some of our vitamin D intake through regular sun exposure, however, its effectiveness can depend on the season, location, time of day and even air quality. There are a few food sources that contain vitamin D. Mushrooms that have been exposed to light are a good source such as shitake, maitake or portabella. Plant-based milk and dairy products are also more often than not fortified with vitamin D and are pretty much the primary source of this immunity-boosting vitamin.
Zinc deficiency has been linked to impaired immune function. It is therefore an important micronutrient within the immune system. Animal sources, such as red meat, poultry and seafood are excellent sources of zinc. Vegetarian options include beans and seeds. In fact soaking and sprouting plant sources can significantly increase the body’s ability to absorb zinc from them. It would therefore be prudent to soak rinsed chickpeas or pumpkin seeds for several hours before cooking.
Antioxidants are compounds that assist with slow damage caused by unstable molecules in our bodies. Vitamin C is an incredible antioxidant and has always been up there for the role it plays in immune functionality. Fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, red bell peppers and berries, when eaten fresh, will leave the high levels of vitamin contained in them intact. However, cooking fruits and veggies for too long will reduce the vitamin C content. So eat them in their natural form for the best results.
Vitamin A is an incredibly important immune-boosting vitamin. It helps maintain the structure of cell walls which play an essential role in the body’s first line of defense. Great sources of vitamin A are orange fruits and vegetables such as sweet potatoes and carrots. The beta-carotene found in such vegetables synthesizes into vitamin A.
Another powerful antioxidant that contains inflammation reducing properties is vitamin E. Great sources of vitamin E are almonds, sunflower seeds and peanuts. Incorporating these ingredients into some of your recipes or having a handful as a healthy snack will ensure you get your daily quota.
So there you have it, a definitive list of what you need during the Holiday and flu season!