Want to boost your immunity so you can stay healthy right through winter and avoid colds & flu? All you need to do is add some common yet nutritious foods to your diet. The following are chock full of immune-boosting nutrients:
Liver is one of the most nutrient-dense superfoods in existence. Essentially, it is nature’s multi-vitamin; containing more nutrients, gram for gram, than any other food! Famously high in vitamin A, liver is also a good source of folic acid, zinc, copper and selenium; all of which strengthen the immune system.
2. Bone broth
Bone broth is also loaded with beneficial immune-boosting nutrients. In particular, the protein gelatin, which helps improve digestive health, heals and repairs the gut lining, prevents harmful bacteria from adhering to the gut walls and inhibits infection. Drink a cup of bone broth a day to reap the most benefit (see recipe).
3. Zinc-rich foods
Zinc-rich foods include oysters, grass fed beef and pumpkin seeds. Zinc is essential for immune cell function, with many studies indicating that even a mild deficiency depresses immunity.
4. Colourful vegetables
These include berries, radishes, pumpkin, broccoli and spinach, and contain powerful nutritional compounds called phytonutrients. These plant-based nutrients offer a multi-targeted defence against disease: They have antioxidant properties, may act as antibacterial and antiviral agents, increase “killer” immune cell counts and generally promote good health.
Even mild dehydration can deplete immune reserves. Water not only transports nutrients to the site of infection, but also takes toxins away for disposal. Don’t like water? Black herbal teas are also immune-friendly beverages to help keep you hydrated.
Garlic has anti-viral, anti fungal, anti parasitic and anti-bacterial properties. It is a powerful food when it comes to fighting infection. And best of all, bacteria, viruses, and yeast build up no resistance to it (unlike synthetic antibiotics).
7. Vitamin D3 rich foods
These inlude cod liver oil, egg yolks and wild salmon. Vitamin D rich foods help to activate killer T cells in the immune system. Vitamin D deficiency is also associated with a higher rates of serious illness and infections.
Mushrooms contain beneficial polysaccharides called beta glucans which positively modulate and strengthen the immune system, helping prevent infections.
9. Fermented foods
Fermented foods such as yoghurt, kefir and also sauerkraut, are full of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) that promote digestive health. Probiotics colonise the small intestine’s inner lining which provides the first line of defence against pathogenic organisms. They also enhance immunity by improving nutrient absorption and aiding in the production of antibodies.
10. Coconuts & coconut oil
Coconuts and coconut oil are rich in lauric acid. This medium-chain fatty acid protects the body by disrupting the lipid membranes of offending organisms. In other words, lauric acid helps to destroy lipid coated viruses such as the influenza (flu) virus.
Bonus tip: If you only do one thing to boost your immune system, then eliminate sugar. Sugar is toxic to the body and can dramatically decreases immune function. Healthier sweet alternatives such as xylitol, erythritol or stevia can be used in moderation, but avoid artificial sweeteners, like aspartame, which are even more toxic than sugar!