As we head into the cooler seasons of Autumn and Winter, we brace ourselves for the common cold, flu and more recently, the global COVID-19 virus. It has become more important than ever to look after our health and maintain a healthy immune system during this time by looking into best immune boosting foods.
Based on what we eat daily, we can actually help our bodies fight off sickness and infection through eating immune-boosting foods. Here are some of the best immune-boosting foods to help you stay healthy this Winter:
Immune boosting foods (Fruit):
Citrus fruits such as; oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and mandarins are great immune boosters, as they contain Vitamin C, which helps build up and strengthen the immune system. Citrus fruits can be easily incorporated into many meals throughout the day, the juice can be used in dressings and vinaigrettes, the rind can be used to top salads and pasta dishes and the pulp can be used in jams and sauces. Citrus is such an easy immune booster that can be squeezed on top of any meal to give it an extra zing, yet also give an extra immunity boost.
Berries such as strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries are great, little immune boosters for the body. Berries help in preventing any damage to cells that protect the immune system against any sicknesses, illnesses and deficiencies. The darker berries like, blackberries and blueberries not only contain rich amounts of vitamin C but also contain the compound, flavonols, which are anti-inflammatory antioxidants.
Pineapple is another great immune boosting fruit that does wonders for the immune system and body. The fruit actually contains a special enzyme called Bromelain, this enzyme helps in the breakdown and digestion of food, through releasing amino acids. The tropical fruit also contains beneficial anti-inflammatory properties which can be great in helping heal a sore throat.
Immune boosting Food (Vegetables):
Spinach is a great immunity-boosting vegetable, as it contains many vitamins and benefits such as, flavonoids, vitamin C, Vitamin E and carotenoids, which all help support and maintain a healthy immune system. However, when the spinach is lightly sautéed, the leafy green will release other nutrients, such as vitamin A, which is released from the oxalic acid.
Red Capsicum is a great immune booster that actually contains double the amount of vitamin C that’s found in citrus fruits. It also provides a rich amount of beta carotene, which helps to brighten and hydrate the skin, whilst also keeping the eyes healthy. Red capsicum is great to add to any salads, pasta and sauces, for an extra immune boost.
Sweet potato is a vegetable full of antioxidants and vitamin A, it helps in maintaining healthy skin and fighting off infections. Sweet potato also contains carotenoids, which help the immune system battle against diseases and prevent sicknesses. It’s properties also provide protection against the sun and UV rays, to prevent further skin damage.
Immune boosting spices:
Garlic is renowned as a fighter against infections and is a great immune boosting ingredient, as it contains allicin. Allicin improves the overall immunity of the body and it’s cells, as it holds properties that have the ability to fight off viruses, the common cold and flu. Garlic’s anti-microbial and anti-viral properties are also great in helping repair the body and immune system.
Ginger is a great ingredient that helps in fighting off many sicknesses, due to its bioactive source of gingerol. This compound, found in ginger, can decrease any inflammation and is great in helping swollen glands and sore throats. Ginger can even help ease pain and reduce any feelings of nausea, it can be used in savoury dishes, sweet dishes, teas and cold brews.
Immune boosting foods (Meats):
Oily fish, such as, tuna and salmon, are great immunity boosters for the body that help in fighting sickness. Oily fish provides healthy fats, such as omega 3, which are important to consume as the body actually cannot produce this fatty acid itself. Zinc is also found in oily fish which can help the immune system repair damaged cells and can even prevent rheumatoid arthritis.
Chicken is a popular immunity boosting white meat, that is great in helping the body during any time of sickness. The warm and hearty chicken soup, a familiar recipe to many, doesn’t just taste good, but also provides protection from getting sick, as poultry is very high in vitamin B-6. This vitamin helps with the overall performance of chemical reactions in the body and helps in the maintenance and formation of red blood cells.
Immune boosting treats:
Dark chocolate not only tastes good but also provides consumers with an immunity boost from the antioxidant, theobromine. This antioxidant boosts the immune system as it has the ability to protect the body’s cells from free radicals, which are molecules that can damage body cells and cause diseases. Chocolate also contains cocoa, which is an immune boosting food, and eating it in moderation can actually help increase good cholesterol.
Honey is both a sweet and sticky immunity boosting spread, that has many health benefits to it. Honey is known to treat an annoying cough that just won’t seem to go away, and with two spoonfuls of honey, either straight or mixed with warm water and a squeeze of lemon, it can soothe a sensitive sore throat. Honey contains properties that kill infection-causing bacteria that can remove free radicals from the body, cleanse the body and boost immunity levels.