10 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Well, the virus is here and we’re all keen to boost our immune system however best we can.  It’s time to tap into a few age-old remedies to help protect ourselves in these challenging times! Here a few particular power foods to help your immunity. 

  • It might seem the most obvious solution, but Vitamin C is crucial to a thriving immune system. It’s the premier vitamin for immune function, and also helps protect cells against damage - your best friend when you’re coming down with the sniffles or an unwanted bug. Try drinking warm lemon water in the mornings, eating or drinking more citrus, or adding some vitamin-C rich baobab powder to your smoothies, juices or porridge. Baobabs are beautiful tall trees with huge wide trunks and spindly branches, found in hot areas of Africa or Australia, and these trees yield the only fruit in the world that dries naturally on the branch. Baobab powder is made from this delicious fruit, and has a citrus-y sherbet-y taste, with importantly 7-10 times more Vitamin C than oranges!

  • Turmeric has certainly been having a superfood moment over the past few years, but far from being a faddy ingredient, turmeric is a traditional ingredient with a long history, and for good reason. Its active ingredient is curcumin which has been proven to be anti-inflammatory in countless research studies. Turmeric is often used in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis, as well as in improving the immune response.

  • Garlic contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. Numerous studies have shown that eating garlic regularly reduces the likelihood of catching a cold. Add fresh raw garlic to your sauces and dressings, or make some delicious fresh garlicky hummus.

  • Mushrooms have been a diet booster for many centuries, particularly for supporting a healthy immune system. Studies have shown mushrooms to increase the volume and activity of white blood cells, making them more effective. When you have an infection try adding cordyceps, shiitake, maitake, chaga or reishi mushroom powder to your cooking or try a comforting mushroom latte.

  • Ginger is famous for its knack of reducing indigestion and nausea, and for calming the digestive tract. As well as being an effective antioxidant, ginger is anti-inflammatory and acts as a decongestant for clearing sinuses, nose and throat.

  • A GIANT green juice made with leafy greens will give you a boost of antioxidants and nutrients such as Vitamin E, important in maintaining immune system function. Juices are a quick and easy way to get a hefty dose of nutrients all in one go! Incorporating more vegetable juices into your diet as liquid nutrition is a great way to ensure your diet is optimal.

  • Vitamin D is one of the main energy sources for our white blood cells, which defend against pathogens such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Our bodies can make vitamin D from sunlight, so it’s important to get outdoors - get that daily exercise in and you’ll really feel the difference.

  • Black cumin seed oil has been extensively studied over the last fifty years. Used in traditional healing for thousands of years, it may be effective in supporting the immune and nervous systems. One such study tested how effective black seed oil, as well as a number of antibiotics, is on superbugs. The study found that most bugs were indeed resistant to antibiotics, but that black cumin oil successfully stopped the growth of 97 out of 144.

  • Saffron is rich in carotenoids that help immunity, with active derivatives crocin and crocetin showing strong antioxidant and radical scavenging virtues. Did you know it takes 150 saffron blossoms to make a single gram of market-ready saffron?!

  • Cacao is one of the most nutrient-rich foods in the world. An aphrodisiac, an immune builder, a vascular strengthener, a hormone balancer, cacao works on every system of the body. It contains over 300 different vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well as unique MAO inhibitors which promotes heightened levels of serotonin to circulate in the brain.

Whilst there are some great natural ways to boost immunity, make sure you are also looking after the basics too.  Aside from diet, pay attention to your body.  If you’re feeling run down or tired, schedule in some self-care and get an extra bit of rest and some meditation time.

There is a really strong link between stress and immunity, so staying calm and positive is really important, and so as well as regular meditation, you should consider the amount of screen time that you are taking in on lockdown; this is the perfect time to read a book or take a walk instead! To supplement this, explore the world of stress reducing adaptogens and functional ingredients like ginseng, holy basil (tulsi) or ashwagandha by adding these time-old ingredients into your food and drinks.

The world of functional ingredients is now huge and if you want a helping hand to reduce cortisol and balance your adrenal system, this can be much more delicious and fun than just popping your supplements, whether it’s through adaptogenic cacao tonics, functional granolas or herbal tinctures.

Words by Ruth Allmark from The Vegan Edit and Jack Graham from Raw Press

Find more healthy tips, recipes and vegan lifestyle inspiration at www.theveganedit.co.uk and www.rawpress.co



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