There is a lot of buzz these days with regards to immunity and ways to strengthen it. Aside from our skin and the mucosal surfaces, the immune system is our second line of defence against pathogens and dangerous altered ‘self’ cells mutated by viral infection or cancer. Nutrition can directly influence the immune system as it needs high levels of vitamins and micronutrient to perform effectively. However, it is important to note that there isn’t a specific diet or individual single food that will ‘boost’ or ‘enhance’ our immunity.
Nutrients such as vitamins A, B6, B12, C, D, and E, as well as iron, zinc, selenium, folic acid and copper are required for a human body to function well. Before you reach for your supplements (which can be harmful if taken in large doses), you can actually obtain those nutrients by having a healthy and varied diet with fruits, vegetables, wholegrains, meat, fish, plant protein, seeds and nuts. Read on for Pandemic Immunity: 8 Immune System-Boosting Foods to Eat Now!
1. Sweet Potato
This surprisingly enough contains a lot of vitamin A. One sweet potato contains nearly 3 times as more RAE (Retinal Activity Equivalents, a measure of vitamin A) per serving than half a cup of boiled spinach.
2. Fatty Fish
3. Bell Pepper
These colourful peppers (specifically red pepper), contains more vitamin C than oranges. If you’re 18 years-old and above, consuming half a cup of raw red pepper, will give you your recommended daily requirement of vitamin C.
Garlic is a well-known ingredient which has a long history of having antimicrobial and antifungal properties. This is said to be due to the chemical compound, allicin within it. It’s always best to consume garlic in its freshest, purest state for maximum benefits.
Amongst the vegetables, this contains the highest amount of folate. Not only that, it has a reasonable amount of other vitamins such as K, A and C. The ideal way to consume spinach is to boil or blanch it lightly in order to release its nutrients.
Traditionally, for millennia, this has been the go-to and consumed whenever a cold or flu has lingered on the horizon. Ginger has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties which can support your immune system. It also has a huge amount of antimicrobial potential that we still probably don’t even fully know about!
This ever-so-trendy bright yellow or rich orangey bitter spice is a member of the ginger family, that’s been commonly used in many curry recipes for millennia. It not only has anti-inflammatory properties but also has the ability to modulate the immune system. You can add a dash of it into any of your dishes as the flavour is not too overpowering, but its benefits to you are!
Your gut health is crucial to your overall health, and fermented products such as yogurt and kefir can introduce beneficial bacteria into your gut. Look out for yogurts and other dairy products that contain live and active cultures, that is what you want.
There is a wide range of food we should positively include in our diet, and we hope this shortlist of foods help you select those high in those all-important essential nutrients!
This list could be more extensive, but it’ll be sufficient as a starting guide to keep you healthy and safe during this pandemic. Just remember to maintain a well-balanced and varied diet. You would no doubt have heard this multiple times; as well as your food, make sure to drink plenty of water, and to exercise. Most importantly, keep a positive, and happy mindset, whilst you find ways to de-stress!