In these times more than ever, we need to consider what we can do now to boost our immune system and strengthen it. As well as staying hydrated and avoiding immune-system saboteurs like sugar, fatty foods and alcohol, you can ward off bugs by including more of these power-packed foods in your diet.
Red capsicum is surprisingly high in vitamin C and has three times as much of the immune-boosting nutrients as an orange. It also contains carotenoids which have an important role in regulating immune function and fighting infections.
Salmon also plays a part in maintaining immune health. The Omega 3 fatty acids in this fish are well known for reducing the risk of heart disease and they also encourage the movement of lymphocyte cells which bolster our immune response.
White button mushrooms play an important role in protecting you from infections. They increase the activity of natural killer cells and cytokines which help fortify us against viruses.
Yoghurt is a natural prebiotic that gives you a dose of the natural bacteria needed to fight off germs. If you have enough of these good bugs in your system, you’ll be less likely to get some of the bad ones. Yoghurt also boosts the production of an antibody called gamma interferon which blocks virus reproduction.
Garlic contains a powerful antimicrobial agent called allicin which cuts the risk of catching a cold or getting a virus by more than 50 per cent if eaten daily and is great for fighting infections. As a prebiotic, garlic stimulates the growth and activity of the good bacteria in your gut which has a flow-on beneficial effect on your whole immune system.
Olive oil helps rebuild and boost the body’s immunity because of its high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids that act as an anti-inflammatory agent and also boosts the immune system, guarding the body against infection.
Avocadoes and leafy greens are packed with vitamin E which is important in regulating and maintaining the function of your immune system. While vitamin C is one of the biggest immune system boosters of all, vitamin E is also needed so that it can fight off viruses and bacteria.
Sweet potatoes and carrots are a top source of beta carotene which converts to vitamin A in the body and helps the immune system by producing white blood cells that fight viruses and bacteria. It also helps form the mucous membranes that line your respiratory tract, which acts as a protective barrier to keep germs out.
Along with managing stress, sleeping well and keeping active, one of the best ways to stay healthy is to have a diet that strengthens your immune system. Make sure to include at least one or two serves of these foods in your diet every day and for an extra kick, you can also add a spoonful of fermented foods to your diet, such as sauerkraut, miso and kefir, as they encourage the growth of good bacteria in your gut, further boosting your immunity.