Boosting our immune system with food is something that’s pretty accessible to us all and easy to do. I’m not saying it can replace orthodox medicine, but it’s great to use food to help ward off those winter nasties and keep you feeling tip top.
Here are my five favourite immune-boosting foods:
This stuff is like mother nature’s antibiotic and it’s pretty magic when it comes to fighting and preventing colds and flus. The trick with garlic is that you want to chomp it up or cut it up to help release the active constituents before you cook with it or eat it. Now, if you’re game and up for eating it raw, you really need to chew it well so it’s crushed up (swallowing it whole will mean fewer immune boosting health benefits). But what about garlic breath, I hear you say? Well, they say that eating it with parsley (which actually has about five times the vitamin C of oranges) will help to counteract garlic breath. Go on, only way to really know is to try! Either way, it’s still worth it.
It’s super warming and soothing. So having a steaming cup of ginger, lemon and honey tea is just what the doctor ordered if you’re feeling a tad under the weather. It’s also brilliant for warming the extremities. (I don’t know about you but my hands and feet generally cop it the worst when it comes to getting cold, and then I get grumpy because I’m freezing!) Ginger tea is my go to winter warmer drink. It’s natural and caffeine-free, so you can enjoy it any time of the day, plus ginger will help to aid digestion, making it a perfect post-dinner ‘snuggling on the couch’ kind of tea.
So we’re talking lemons, limes, oranges, mandarins, grapefruits, anything form the citrus family really. We know that citrus is a great source of vitamin C, but how’s this: the pith (that’s the bitter white stuff between the flesh and the skin) is full of bioflavonoids, which make the vitamin C found in the flesh more absorbable and easier to assimilate. So if you can bear the bitter flavour, keep the white pith on all your citrus.
I love, love, love chillies and they say you can become addicted to them because they work on the opioid pathway in the brain. So if you’re anything like me, you’ll want (need) more and more to get your chilli hit. Some people even say they make you feel euphoric. But when it comes to your immune system, they are really warming and help keep all systems firing. In fact, one folk remedy involving chillies in the winter suggests you should chop them up and pop them in your socks to stop your feet getting cold. I tried this once in a NY winter and I think it worked too!
We need plenty of it to keep us strong and all our fighter cells pumping. Those are the cells that run off and eat the nasties bugs and viruses – the good guys! So think eggs, good meat sources and wild caught fish as much as you can. And if you’re veggo then up the nuts, seeds, legumes and think about trying thinkgs like goat’s and sheep’s yoghurt to up your protein too.