Because eating the right diet is always better than loading up on supplements.
The Immune System does a remarkable job of keeping us healthy, fit and happy. But very often, amongst the pressures of our lives we forget to take care of it as well as we should.
Understanding the Immune System
Making sure you’re at optimum immunity isn’t a one-time thing. We can’t expect to eat an orange when we’re down with the sniffles and expect to jump back up into good health – unfortunately that isn’t how it works!
It’s a lifestyle thing. We need to adopt healthy habits and a nutritious, well-balanced diet year-round so as to keep ourselves in the pink of health.
This is because the Immune system isn’t a one-point place where pathogens are fought off. It is exactly what the name suggests – a “system”. It is a vast, dynamic network of organs, cells and tissues which work well only when in perfect harmony with one another.
Diet for Supercharging Immunity
The essential principle behind using foods to increase immunity is straightforward – your body needs a thoroughly balanced diet, not lacking in any macro or micro-nutrients.
When you eat well, you feel well.
However, there are certain foods that are natural anti-microbials or have certain specific minerals and vitamins that are essential to a healthy immune system.
Here is a list of simple superfoods and herbs that will charge up your immunity and keep you healthy, as long as you make it a habit to incorporate these into your everyday diet.
Turmeric is a spice that is frequently added in Eastern cuisine – especially the Indian subcontinent. It contains a compound called curcumin which has been scientifically proved to have anti-inflammatory, cancer-preventive, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-viral benefits; it is a wonderful agent to prevent (and in some cases, even treat) every disorder from respiratory to gastroenteristic ailments, and potentially cancer and lifestyle diseases too.
You can add this spice to your general cooking (such as in curries, veggies, sandwiches etc) and that’s usually the best way to incorporate it into your diet.
Another way is to have a glass of milk or yoghurt with a quarter to half tsp of turmeric powder.
A third possibility is to add the spice to salad dressings.
Oregano, much like turmeric, is a remarkable herb for overall health. It can be used as a treatment for skin maladies, aching muscles, diarrhea, cramping, indigestion, asthma etc.
It is a potent antiseptic and it contains several antioxidants. Preliminary scientific studies have shown its benefits toward the cardiovascular and nervous systems. Oregano is also a wonderful anti-inflammatory, and modulates blood sugar and lipids.
Garlic has been proven to stimulate immunity with regular use (additionally also has amazing effects on cardiovascular health, such as being able to modulate blood pressure and cholesterol).
In fact, this scientific paper has proved that garlic can significantly reduce the number, duration, and severity of upper respiratory infections.
Ginseng is a spice that is used extensively in traditional Chinese medicine and cooking.
In particular, ginseng has been extensively reported to enhance resistance to illness or microbial attacks through regulating the immune system. In fact, this study shows that ginseng can successfully influence the different types of immune system cells.
It can also control inflammatory diseases and microbial infections.
Spinach is choc-full of vitamins, minerals and proteins, making it one of the best foods for increasing immunity.
In particular, a high percentage of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, antioxidants and beta-carotene are essential for optimal immune functioning.
Much like its cousin spinach, broccoli contains a little more protein and comparable amounts of Vit C, Vit A and antioxidants.
Both Spinach and Broccoli should be cooked minimally so that their nutrient profiles are maintained.
Most people don’t know that bell peppers can actually contain twice as much Vitamin C as citrus.
Twice as much!
Add to that the presence of beta-carotene which, just like in the case of Spinach and Broccoli, bolsters immunity, and you have a wonderful superfood in your hands.
Not only do Pumpkin seeds contain protein, they are one of the richest sources of Zinc which is crucial to the immune system.
They are also a great source of Magnesium and one of the best plant sources for Vitamin B.
Additionally, being rich in antioxidants means this should definitely be something you should incorporate into your diet if you want a strong immune system.
These are unique in that they contain Vitamin E and Selenium, both essential in immune system health.
They are also a rich source of Magnesium, Folate and Vitamin B, all of which have a beneficial effect on immunity.
Flax seeds are an abundant source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Additionally, they also contain important phytonutrients called lignans. Both Lignans and Omega 3’s are essential to a well-functioning immune response.
With numerous other benefits to overall health, no wonder flax seeds are called superfoods.
Oranges + Lemon
Citruses are renowned for their Vitamin C, which helps build up the immune system.
Nature’s powerhouse citrus fruit deserve to be in your diet all year round, and not just meant to be reached for when you’re down with a cold!
When you think of immune health, blueberries may not immediately come to mind. But these little powerhouses are full of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, antioxidants, potassium and manganese… in other words, they are a tasty, essential addition to your everyday diet if you want to stay healthy!
Fats have a bad rap – misconceptions abound when it comes to having healthy fats and oils. Some healthy oils are, in fact, crucial for synthesizing fat-soluble vitamins and minerals. So yes, even certain fats are necessary to maintain immune health.
Most people would dismiss coconut oil as being too fatty to be consumed in a healthy diet. But let me tell you, that is simply not true.
Coconut oil contains lauric acid and caprylic acid, which are potent antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal agents.
What makes it an all-round miracle superfood though, is that it is additionally known to have anti-inflammatory, anti-pyretic (fever reducing) and painkilling properties.
Olive oil has been demonstrably effective in helping the immune system deal with onslaughts from external organisms.
Just like coconut oil, the fatty acids present in olive oil modulate the anti-inflammatory response in the immune system and increase the resistance against microbes.
Probiotics in general boost gut health by introducing beneficial strains of “good” bacteria in our digestive system. Maintaining a healthy gut is an often overlooked part of taking care of our immunity.
This is particularly beneficial in managing autoimmune diseases (which are caused due to a hyperactive and malfunctioning immune system).
Yoghurt is the primary natural source of probiotics for most of us. Consuming yoghurt regularly has proven positive effects in the functioning of our immune systems. Additionally, it also helps out digestion stay on top of its game.
Some research shows that yoghurt produced by different strains of bacteria fermenting milk have different beneficial health effects. But overall, all kinds of yoghurt are wonderful and essential in our everyday diets.
Kefir is another kind of probiotic that’s gaining a lot of traction in the healthy eating community.
It is another cultured, fermented beverage such as yoghurt.
Kefir can be made with dairy milk as well as non-dairy milk such as coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk and even coconut water.
Kefir has more fat, more protein and even more probiotics than yoghurt. Which means it’s even better for the health of the immune system.
And the honorable mention…
There is actually nothing on this list more important than water.
Every single cell in the body has water as a constituent. That means the very existence of immune cells is dependent on water.
Water carries oxygen to every part of the body, which is an obvious necessity to the proper functioning of all our systems.
Not just this, water also helps cleanse and detox the body. This is necessary to prevent the buildup of toxins and germs.
The immune system uses a fluid called lymph to circulate white blood cells to the various parts of the human body. And lymph can’t be produced without water.
In any case, a shockingly large number of illnesses can be prevented just by drinking adequate amounts of water everyday.
No matter what you eat and don’t eat, always keep up a consistent amount of water intake every day for the best and easiest way to boost your immune system.