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  • Writer's pictureAvril McManus

Immune Boosting Foods

Updated: Feb 22, 2023

We often think of supporting our immune system around winter time or flu season. However, it is worth noting that our immune system is challenged constantly every day! If you are that person that easily attracts a cold, flu or tummy bug frequently, then it is best to start looking to your diet to aid your immunity, with consuming one or two of my recommended immune boosting foods it can help to support your immune system on a daily basis.

Bee Pollen is often referred to as “natures most perfect food” because it’s a complete protein, containing all eight essential amino acids, it also rich in fatty acids, enzymes, carotenoids, vitamins and minerals, making it an anti-viral, anti-microbial, anti-fungal super-food that can help reduce inflammation and stimulate our immune system. Bee Pollen is compromised of tiny, golden yellow to dark brown granules that have a delicate flavour, which varies according to the plant pollen it was made from. It can easily be added to smoothies, juices, yogurts, cereal, or simply on its own. It is important to note if you are allergic to bee related products do not consume this food.

Garlic is renowned for its health benefits particularly as an infection fighter. It contains sulphur-containing compounds allicin, diallyl-disulphide and diallyl-trisulphide. These compounds are anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-fungal. Scientific evidence has shown that Allicin can be effective in fighting off colds, flu, viruses and yeast infections. Chopping or crushing garlic stimulate the enzymatic process that converts the phyto-chemical Allin into Allicin, and garlic can be added into any savoury recipe or eaten on its own, it is at your own discretion how much you wish to consume. My recommendation when a cold is imminent the more the better, your loved ones will understand the body odour.

Ginger has been associated with being very effective in alleviating digestive symptoms due the fact that it is an excellent carminative, a substance that promotes the elimination of intestinal wind, and intestinal spasmolytic, which helps relaxes and soothes the intestinal tract. As a result, when our digestive system is working efficiently then our gut microbiome can play its integral role in supporting our immune system, 70-80 percent of our immune system is in our gut and our gut microbiome is its key player in strengthening our immune system. Furthermore ginger contains a very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called zingerone, shogaols and gingerols. These compounds are powerful anti-microbial, anti -viral and anti-fungal factors. Gingerol may inhibit the formation of inflammatory cytokines, chemical messengers of the immune system and can help reduce inflammation especially intestinal inflammation. Fresh ginger can easily be added into stir-fries, soups, stews, teas, smoothies and juices.

Raw honey is taken out of the cell of honey combs and contains bee pollen and propolis that boosts overall immunity. Raw honey cannot be heated over 95 degrees Fahrenheit, it is neither filtered nor pasteurised and it is free from any preservatives and additives. Raw honey has been shown to be effective in treating coughs by reducing mucus secretions with a single dose (1 teaspoon) of raw honey. Furthermore using one teaspoon of raw honey along with a slice of fresh ginger and lemon added to warm water can help aid a sore throat. Raw honey is full of natural prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria known as probiotics in our digestive tract. As a result honey is one food to consider having in the fridge. It can be added to cereal, yogurt, smoothies, baked goods or simple on its own. It is important to note if you are allergic to bee related products do not consume this food.

Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms are fungi that grow naturally on decaying hardwood trees. They provide a wonderful taste, texture to omelettes, stir-fries, soups and stews. The health benefits of Shiitake and Maitake mushrooms are primarily due to their polysaccharides components such as lentinan and beta-glucans respectively. The healing benefits of these polysaccharides are its ability to boost the immune system, strengthening its ability to fight infection and disease. They are also excellent sources of B vitamins, potassium and selenium, and good sources of protein, dietary fibre and vitamin D all needed to help support our immune system.

Turmeric is an essential spice that needs to be in everyone’s pantry. Curcumin is the active compound in turmeric that gives the spice its yellow-orange colour. Curcumin has several medicinal properties with numerous clinical studies highlighting curcumin anti-inflammatory effects. Hence reducing inflammation in the body can help support our immune system. Turmeric can be added to numerous dishes such as mashed dishes like potatoes, soups, stews, sautés with onions, broccoli, carrots or bell peppers, and you can try out turmeric latte as alternative to tea and coffee.

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