Eat This to Boost Immunity
As we head into winter – in the middle of a pandemic no less – it’s more important than ever to try to boost our immune system. A complex system made up of different organs, cells and proteins that all work together, such as the gut, skin, mucus and lymph system, the immune system is our body’s first line of defence against external invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi and toxins. Within each of our immune systems is our innate immune system, which we are born with, and our adaptive immune system, which we develop when we’re exposed chemicals or other pathogens. When our immune system is robust and working properly, it enables us to live our lives and come into contact with germs and bugs without worrying about coming them potentially causing us serious harm – which is why it’s also important to help protect and boost it however we can. While regular exercise, getting plenty of sleep and limiting our alcohol intake can all help protect it, our daily diet has a crucial part to play.
Containing some of the highest amount of vitamin C there is, red peppers are a great vegetable to add to your diet. One of the main reasons it’s essential to get plenty of vitamin C in your diet is because it helps boost the production of white blood cells, which are vital for helping to fight infection in the body. Because it’s an antioxidant it’s also crucial for the repair and growth of tissue all over the body and can help shorten wound healing time. While citrus fruits like grapefruit and oranges are a great source of vitamin C, peppers, kiwi fruit and green vegetables like spinach and kale are also loaded with the immunity-boosting goodness.
As well as being a flavour staple in most dishes, garlic is a potent immunity booster thanks to a compound called alliin. When garlic gets crushed or chewed, alliin into allicin, which boosts the disease-fighting response of some white blood cells when they encounter cold and flu viruses. And while some studies have shown it can help prevent you from getting sick in the first place, eating plenty of garlic is also thought to lessen the severity and duration of a cold if you do succumb.
With strong anti-bacterial and antioxidant properties, ginger is an excellent immunity booster to add to your diet this winter. It’s also a potent anti-inflammatory so is known to suppress chronic inflammation which can harm your immune system.
In addition to containing with flavonoids, a type of potent antioxidant, green tea is packed full of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) an antioxidant which has been shown to boost immune function. It also contains the amino acid L-theanine which is thought to help produce germ-fighting compounds in our T-cells, crucial cells in our immune system.
Herrings and sardines
Oily fish such as these are some of the best sources of vitamin D we can get. Vitamin D is responsible for helping the body to absorb calcium, promote healthy bone growth, improve brain development and function and ensuring your intestine absorbs vital nutrients, but it’s particularly essential for “triggering and arming” our immune system and keeping it in good health to help fight off infections. If you are lacking in this vital vitamin you may find you’re always fighting a cold, or you might experience fatigue and muscle ache more regularly. A lack of vitamin D has also been linked to poor sleep quality and reduced sleep duration.