Immune system booster foods

Immune system booster foods

Lily & Loaf Blog Lily & Loaf Blog
6 minute read

If you follow a healthy, balanced diet, the chances are it will contain plenty of immune system booster foods.

Many different types of food contain the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients you need to keep your immune system strong.

Eating them regularly can help strengthen your body’s defences and ward off colds, flu, tummy bugs and other common infections, as well as making you less prone to more severe health conditions. A diet that’s rich in immune system booster foods can also give your other key body systems a boost, give you more natural energy and bounce and help improve your mood, your skin and hair, and your mental health.

WHAT IS THE IMMUNE SYSTEM, AND WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

Your immune system is your body’s first line of defence against many illnesses. It is a complex network of cells and organs that helps your body to respond to, and fight back against infection. When it functions well, your immune system can help you ward off colds, bugs, tummy trouble and a host of other common conditions, and help you to recover quickly when you do fall ill. It also helps to evolve your body’s response to infection, to help keep it at bay. If your immune system is not as strong as it can be, it could leave you more prone to allergic diseases, immunodeficiencies and autoimmune disorders. Long-term, these can have a severe impact on your health and wellbeing.

HOW TO BOOST YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM

Eating well and getting plenty of exercise are all good ways to give your immune system a boost. A varied diet that is rich in fresh fruit and vegetables will give you most of the nutrients your body needs to maintain a healthy immune systemExercising outdoors and getting plenty of fresh air can also help keep your immune system healthy, as can staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water every day.

Resting properly after exercise and avoiding stress will also help. So will avoiding excess alcohol, smoking, takeaways and food that is high in saturated fat or processed sugar, although that doesn’t mean you have to deny yourself. The odd tipple or treat now and then is fine and can help stop cravings. Just remember to be good to yourself and keep things in moderation. 

OUR FAVOURITE IMMUNE SYSTEM BOOSTER FOODS

There are loads of foods out there that are not only good for the immune system, but can also improve your overall health and wellbeing. Here’s our pick of the best immune system booster foods: 

• Garlic

While garlic is usually used to add flavour to your favourite dishes (as well as keeping vampires at bay), it also has many health benefits. It is not only helpful in fighting infection but can also help slow down the hardening of blood vessels and lower your blood pressure.

• Ginger

Ginger is renowned for its immune-boosting qualities. It has natural anti-inflammatory properties, which can help soothe sore throats, inflammation and chronic pain as well as easing nausea and sickness.

• Citrus fruits

Most citrus fruit – such as lemon, orange, grapefruit, pineapple and lime – is rich in Vitamin C, which is one of the most crucial nutrients your body uses to ward off illness. Vitamin C helps to increase the production of white blood cells, which the body uses to fight infection. However, because your body can’t produce or store Vitamin C, you need to get your daily amount from your diet or supplementation.

• Peppers

Peppers are another food rich in Vitamin C. In fact, red peppers contain around three times the amount of Vitamin C that  oranges do. They also have other beneficial nutrients, including Beta Carotene, which your body converts into Vitamin A to boost the health of your eyes and skin.

• Green veg

Dark, leafy vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants, which not only keep your immune system healthy but help prevent the damage done to your cells by oxidative stress. Fresh broccoli, spinach, kale and Cavalo Nero are some of the best green veggies you can put on your plate, or whizz into your smoothies.

• Yoghurt

Yoghurt is rich in probiotics, the live bacteria which ensure the smooth running of your digestive system and help keep your immune system healthy. Your gut is home to a complex ecosystem of live bacterial flora. Probiotics help the friendly ones to thrive and kill off the harmful ones. Kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut and other fermented foods have similar benefits. 

• Nuts

Nuts are rich in Vitamin E, which, like Vitamin C, can help your body fight off colds and flu. Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, but is fat-soluble, meaning the body will absorb more of it by eating the healthy fats present in many nuts, especially almonds and Brazil nuts.   
Be careful, though, because certain nuts can trigger allergic reactions. 

• Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are another excellent source of Vitamin E. They are also packed full of other beneficial, immune-boosting nutrients including Phosphorous, Magnesium, Selenium and Vitamin B-6. Selenium is particularly useful in fighting viral infections.

• Turmeric

Turmeric is a widely used spice with a distinctive yellow colour. It contains high concentrations of Curcumin, an active compound that has anti-inflammatory, antiviral and immune-boosting properties. It helps to repair muscle damage after exercising and is also useful in treating conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis.

• Green tea

Tea is a great natural source of flavonoids, antioxidants which can help prevent cell damage caused by oxidative stress. It contains high levels of an antioxidant called Epigallocatechin Gallate (EGCG), which has immune-boosting properties. However, while black tea is usually fermented before being sold, which strips out much of the EGCG, green tea is steamed, which leaves most of its EGCG intact.

IMMUNE SYSTEM SUPPLEMENTS

Your diet plays an integral part in your overall wellbeing. Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables will  ensure you get the right blend of natural vitamins and minerals you need to boost your immune system. However, if you’re concerned about any nutritional deficiencies, natural immune-boosting supplements can help top-up any shortfalls.

Check out these links to find out more:

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