It’s official...the cold season is here! Sadly, none of us can avoid all exposure to the winter bugs that attack our immune system with colds and other virus’. Whenever we get onto public transport, pick little ones up from nursery, walk into an air-conditioned office or generally go about our daily lives, we are vulnerable to assault. Luckily, in addition to the do’s and don’t to protecting your immune system (discussed in last Month’s blog here) nature provides us with a spectrum of foods to support, build and repair our immune system so that we can keep our defences strong and prevent ourselves from getting ill.
Here are our top 5 favourite immune boosting foods and the reasons why we love to fill our meals with them:
1. Vitamin C:
Vitamin C is a vital ingredient for any healthy immune system. It helps to keep the protective barrier of our first line of defence, the innate immune system, strong and impenetrable. It also helps the second line of defence, the acquired immune system, to build and multiply the white blood cells called B and T-cells that will kill off any invading germs. In fact, scientific research has shown that Vitamin C deficiency has been associated with an increased number of longer, nastier colds!
Foods bursting with Vitamin C:
- Brussel Sprouts
- Bell Peppers
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach
- Kiwi Fruit
- Snow Peas
2. Bone Broth:Bone broth, like Vitamin C, supports both the innate and acquired immune system. When bones are left to simmer, the bone marrow liquefies and out flow amino acids & collagen that nourish the protective barrier in the gut as well as a certain (unpronounceable) lipid (fat) called alkylglycerol that helps the acquired immune system to produce white blood cells.
Sadly, commercial stock cubes and powders do not contain these beneficial nutrients, however, bone broth is simple to make, all that is needed is time to allow the nourishment to be released from the bones.
Our favourite simple bone broth recipe:
- Organic bones
- Vegetables of your choice
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- Cover the bones with water and add a splash of vinegar, as the acidity will help extract more minerals from the bones.
- Bring to boil and skim off
- Add any vegetables you’d like (this is not necessary, just for taste). Decrease temperature and simmer for 4 hours to 24 hours. The longer you simmer the more minerals you’ll extract.
- Keep the broth in the fridge or freezer and serve on its own with salt or use in soups and sauces.
3. Fermented foodsWith an estimated 70% — 80% of our immune system living in our gut it is crucial to keep our digestive system functioning well. A diet rich in fermented foods brimming with beneficial bacteria is an easy, and delicious, way to cultivate and maintain an ideal environment for the immune system to flourish.
Fermented foods rich in good bacteria, include:
- Kefir – both dairy and vegan
- Crème Fraiche
- Fermented Miso
- Pickled beets
- Kim Chi
- Soured Cream
The humble garlic bulb packs a powerful positive punch when it comes to supporting our immune system. Most of the immune benefits of garlic come from the sulfurous compounds, which give it its pungent odour and flavour. These sulphurous compounds have been found to stimulate the immune system in a number of different ways, including; increasing white blood cell numbers, releasing nitric oxide, which protects against virus’ as well as having both anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.
Ginger has long been a traditional herbal treatment for the common cold. It not only contains an anti-inflammatory compound, wonderfully called Gingerol, but also other anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties to give our immune system a helpful boost.