As we head into the cooler months, keeping our immune systems in tip-top shape starts to become front of mind for many of us. While there is certainly no conclusive proof that the food we eat or supplements we take will protect us from infection, it is important to think about ways that we can support and maintain a healthy immune system. According to naturopath Angela Cali, eating plenty of immune boosting ingredients is just one of the steps we can take (along with getting enough sleep and regular exercise). A nutritious diet will help our bodies maintain a healthy immune response to anything that comes our way in the shape of colds, flu and viruses.
Here are Angela Cali’s top 5 immune boosting ingredients:
Top 5 immune boosting ingredients
Ayurveda (a system of alternative medicine with historical roots in India) has been extolling the benefits of turmeric for hundreds of years and with good reason. It’s anti-inflammatory, anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and importantly contains anti-oxidant properties which help boost immunity.
“The curcumin in turmeric has been shown to have potent immunomodulatory effects. Directly enhancing the immune activity, when exposed to virus’ and pathogens,’’ Angela says.
“Its effective anti-oxidant action supports the immune system during times of stress and illness.”
Try: To get some turmeric into your day try making a turmeric latte using warm milk, honey and cinnamon and TurmeriX powder or if you prefer supplements you can try TurmeriX capsules.
By now most of us have heard about the benefits of pre and probiotics for gut health, but did you know they also assist in boosting immunity?
“We know 70 per cent of our immune system resides in our gut, so let’s support this system,’’ Angela says.
“An abundance of varied strains of bacteria living in our digestive tract provides natural immune support.”
Try: Prebiotic foods include, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi, unflavoured yoghurts, apple cider vinegar, artichokes, chicory root, garlic, onion, asparagus, dandelion greens, banana and flaxseeds.
Apple Cider Vinegar
There’s a lot to love about apple cider vinegar. Not only does it enhance digestion and the assimilation and absorption of nutrients, it is also alkalising when digested, which Angela says is a favourable state for our bodies to function healthily.
“Apple cider vinegar has an antibacterial action. It supports our lymphatic system to excrete pathogens and viruses swiftly from our body, via its supportive action on our detoxification pathways,’’ Angela says.
Try: 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in warm water, or combine with olive oil as a salad dressing on the go.
Vitamin C/Bioflavonoid contains foods
Arguably the queen of immune boosting ingredients – Vitamin C is our winter go-to for its anti-microbial activity and immune supporting functions.
“Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the number of days sick when struck down with a virus, while bioflavonoids enhance the action of Vitamin C and possess anti-oxidant effects,’’ says Angela.
“Although citrus has a high percentage of Vitamin C, I tell my patients to choose foods high in both Vitamin C and flavonoids. Be sure to eat the pulp and white core of citrus fruits and veggies for their bioflavonoid benefits.”
Try: Red, green or yellow capsicum, sweet potato, kiwi fruit, papaya, berries, broccoli and kale.
While Vitamin C might get all the immune boosting glory, Zinc is the quiet achiever that often gets overlooked.
“Zinc is required for numerous processes in the immune system,’’ says Angela.
“If deficient, this may lead to a compromised immune function and increased susceptibility to illness.”
Try: Non-processed meat, shellfish, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, beans), seeds (hemp, pumpkin, sesame, squash), nuts (cashews, almonds, pine), eggs, whole grains (quinoa, rice, oats).
What a selection of nutrients we have to work with! Have you thought about how you are going to boost your body’s immune response this Winter season? If you’re new to the blog, or haven’t had a look back in a while, here are some recipes to try that incorporate these immune boosting ingredients. How about a Broccolini, Zucchini and Turmeric Tofu Salad, some Roasted and Spiced Sweet Potato Hummus or a Warm Winter Pineapple Nourish Bowl?
What is your go to Winter immune booster? Share your secrets with me and the EPW community below!
* Angela Cali is an accredited naturopath who graduated in 2003 with a Bachelor of Health Sciences in Naturopathy. She has been in clinical practice for over 13 years, helping people restore their health. Angela is a mother to 3 children and balances her working days with yoga and pilates.