Foods to boost your immune system
For more healthy eating advice please visit my website http://www.nutrition-coach.co.uk/
Working at Maggie’s cancer supper centre in Nottingham, I’m often asked about what foods can help build up our immune system. This is especially important to cancer patients who may have undergone some quite radical surgery, chemo or radiotherapy. All of which can have a debilitating effect on the body
A strong immune system is also important to many us, as the winter bugs and viruses try to strike us down.
To strengthen your immune system it is important to
- Load up on the foods that pack the biggest nutritional punch such as vegetables, pulses, nuts and wholegrain
- Whilst avoiding processed foods (often high in fat and salt) and
- Reduce the amount of sugar and alcohol in your diet.
- You can do even more by selecting foods that are loaded with specific immune boosting nutrients.
Top tips for a healthy immune system
Eat a ‘rainbow’ of colour to get more antioxidants in your diet. By that I mean have plenty of variety, all the following foods help to nourish the thymus gland, which is responsible for much of the immune-system function. Eat at least two servings a day of these foods rich in vitamins B, C and E, plus beta-carotene (vitamin A) and zinc – red peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, oranges, apples, tomatoes, kiwi, carrots, berries, red grapes, kale, onions, spinach, sweet potatoes. You get the idea!
- Cook frequently with garlic because it’s a proven immune booster and has antiviral and antibacterial properties. The allicin helps to prevent and fight colds. So add it to hummus, pasta and curry dishes. Rub on to toasted sour dough for a low cal garlic bread
- Spinach is rich in folic acid. It can be made into spinach pasta, added to soups, smoothies or pasta sauces. It can brighten up a curry or bulk out a salad
- Cinnamon is antiviral, anti fungal and antibacterial; sprinkle it on your porridge or muesli. Add it to low sugar bakes and biscuits or smoothies
- Mushrooms – contain vitamin D (and will absorb more if placed on a sunny shelf), which is good at combating viruses. Add to stir-fries, soups and pasta dishes
- Stay hydrated – try and drink at least 6 glasses of water, fruit teas, green and black teas etc a day
- Take some regular exercise: If you want to boost your immune system, get active. Just increasing your heart rate for only 20 minutes three times a week is associated with an increased immune function, and a brisk walk five days a week can help reduce your risk of catching a cold. Also being out and socialising can help boost your immune system
- Have a giggle! – Laughing decreases the levels of stress hormones in the body while increasing a type of white blood cells that fights infection.