By Sue Bedford (MSc Nutritional Therapist)
Now is the perfect time to start boosting your immune system to keep energy levels high and to help ward off the season’s first colds and illnesses since it’s autumn and the days are getting shorter and cooler. To give yourself a head start on the bugs, try to include some of these immune-boosting foods in your diet every day. How well you feed your immune system on a daily basis might have a big impact on how your autumn unfolds health-wise.
Oats -A high source of beta glucans, which help our immune systems recognise and eradicate pathogenic organisms that cause infections and sickness, oats are excellent for supporting your immune system. Additionally, oats have the highest protein level of any cereal. This is significant because protein is required for the creation of antibodies, which are cells that aid the body in its defence against pathogens. They are also a good source of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant without which our immune system cannot effectively fight off hazardous germs. Sunflower seeds, pine nuts, almonds, and hazelnuts are other top-notch sources of vitamin E.
Turmeric – one of the main spices in the Indian dish curry, well researched for containing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It is especially well known for the active substance Curcumin, which is a chemical compound, of which there are several, known as Curcuminoids. Traditionally known for its anti-inflammatory effects, curcumin has been shown in the last two decades to be a potent immunomodulatory agent that can modulate the immune system and thus immune response. Sprinkle in curries, casseroles, soups or in smoothies and juices.
Shiitake Mushrooms – low in calories, a good source of fibre (to help the gut) these tasty mushrooms contain sterols and lipids linked to lowering cholesterol and boosting the immune system. They also give our body a great vitamin D boost to help support our immunity. Rich in some important B vitamins too which help to lift mood and reduce anxiety. Why not make a lovely soup?
Leeks – Leeks are loaded with vitamin A which is vital in the regulation of the immune system. They are also a great source of vitamin C and contain organo-sulphur compounds. Research shows that organo-sulphur compounds help strengthen the immune system and provide protection against inflammation. Leeks are also an important prebiotic food, in that they ‘feed’ the good bacteria in the gut and so help a healthy microbiome to establish. A diverse microbiome helps to maintain a strong immune system and healthy body and mind. Great in soups and casseroles.
Orange-coloured Fruit and Vegetables – Like vitamins C and E, vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that influences a person’s health starting in infancy. In fact, while the baby is in the womb, the mother’s vitamin A levels have an impact on how the infant’s immune system develops. According to research, a vitamin A shortage during pregnancy may cause the baby’s immune system to be compromised, which is subsequently challenging to rectify. Several foods, including whole milk, as well as fruits and vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, and butternut squash are excellent sources of vitamin A.
Blueberries – Blueberries have long been valued for their medicinal and nutritional properties. They are packed with vital nutrients to keep the body healthy. Blueberries contain antibacterial compounds. They also contain anthocyanin which is a flavonoid containing antioxidant properties that play an essential role in supporting the immune system and in keeping the respiratory tract healthy. Enjoy in smoothies or sprinkle over your breakfast.
Ginger – is an amazing spice, it to helps to boost the immune system, contains many essential nutrients and vitamins and plays a role in reducing inflammation in the body. As inflammation can affect your body’s immune response, anti-inflammatory ginger can play a key role in boosting your immunity. Why not make some ginger tea?
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