What can I eat to boost my immune system?
Your immune system is one of the most valuable things you have – and it’s not just for warding off the sniffles and sneezes. It consists of an army of cells that work hard every single day to protect your body from all types of bacterial infections, viruses, food poisoning, autoimmune conditions and even cancer.
Immune system warriors need good, regular nourishment and these foods play a vital role in helping our immune system to cope with daily attacks on it. How many can you eat this week?
1. Brazil Nuts
These nuts are a true immunity superfood as they contain good levels of both selenium and vitamin E, both of which are vital for a normal antibody response – a vital process that identifies and neutralizes harmful bacteria and viruses.
Unfortunately British soil is very low in selenium, therefore produce grown in it is also low in this mineral. If you have a weak immune system, ensure you are taking a good quality multi-vitamin that contains selenium.Stock up on Brazils at Holland & Barrett
2. Red peppers
Did you know that peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges? There is no question that this vitamin is absolutely essential for immunity. It can be bacteriostatic (hinder growth of bugs) or bactericidal (kill bugs), depending on the virus.
3. Sweet Potatoes
The gorgeous orange pigment of sweet potatoes is due to the phytochemical beta- carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A within the body.
This nutrient is responsible for maintaining an active Thymus. This lymphoid gland, found just in front of the heart is highly anti-viral as it helps cells become resistant to viral attacks.
Ok, not technically a food – but the sun is by far the best source of Vitamin D, which is essential in activating our immune defense. Research suggests that when faced with bacteria and viruses, immune cells first search for vitamin D in order to do their job properly. If, however they cannot find enough vitamin D, they will not complete their activation process, which could mean the bug takes hold and wreak havoc in your system.
According to the British Medical Journal, more than 50 per cent of us have insufficient levels of Vitamin D, as many of us have problems utilising the vitamin D we get from food sources. The good news is that we can store this vitamin in our bodies to get us through the dark winter months, so make the most of the summer days by getting some sun on your skin.
Eggs contain a good amount of the mineral zinc, which is involved in over 200 enzymes in the body, and is crucial for immune health. We need a regular intake to prevent zinc deficiency because our bodies don’t have a dedicated storage system for it.Read more: The ultimate multi-tasking egg recipe
Other sources include seafood, pumpkin seeds, legumes and whole-grains.
Rose is a nutritional therapist who is passionate about showing people how to overcome their health concerns through specialised nutrition. Visit her website to sign up to her newsletter and get her ‘Snacking – Get It Right!’ e-guide for free or to ask about having a nutritional consultation.
Author photograph by Molly Matcham Photography