Fueling your body with nutrient-dense foods provides essential vitamins and minerals to your body to help you be at your peak performance. This includes your cognitive ability, your energy and all your body’s essential functions (eg. reproductive and digestive system). And most importantly, what this blog series is focused on your immune health.
How you nourish and fuel your body is key to building a strong immune system and a healthy immune response.
You wouldn’t put coke or orange juice in a car and expect it to run well, would you!?
There are of course other factors that contribute to how your body performs (sleep, hydration, genetics, lifestyle, stress loading) but ensuring you make healthy choices when it comes to food will be a very important step in achieving a healthy immune system.
Here are a few simple food and nutrition tips to help you maintain your health and build your immune system.
1. Cook with herbs & spices
Mother nature has created some super powerful plants with amazing health benefits, many you can find in your kitchen! Before western medicine was around we had plant medicine and this included many herbs and spices.
Fresh herbs and spices are packed with antioxidants and phytochemicals and many have antiviral, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. Take the opportunity to include lots of fresh herbs and spices in your cooking for their immune-boosting properties. Such as:
- Turmeric – Improves immune function with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Ginger – Is a powerful anti-inflammatory and can boost immunity by protecting against some strains of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria.
- Garlic – Stimulates cells that fight bacteria and viruses. It has the ability to kill some microorganisms responsible for infections such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, thrush and herpes.
- Oregano – Is considered nature’s original antibiotic. A powerful antiviral contains the compounds carvacrol and thymol that have antibacterial and anti-fungal properties.
- Parsley – Can help soothe gastrointestinal disorders and boost immunity.
- Sage – Used in traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to help fight inflection, it has antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties.
You can even make your own fresh herb tea by simply steeping some springs or herbs, slices of ginger and garlic in hot water for 2-3mins and add lemon and honey to taste!
2. Eat a rainbow of fruit and vegetable
- By eating a wide variety of in-season, organic (if possible) fresh fruit and vegetables of different colours ensures you get the vitamins and minerals your body needs to perform its vital functions.
- Take the extra time to wash all your fruit and veg to ensure they are as clean as possible to reduce contamination as they may have been handled by other people at the store before you bought them home.
3. Maintain good gut health
- 85 % of your immune system is in your gut. Include a good quality probiotic in your diet. I love the water-soluble one from the Australian brand The Beauty Chef called Glow.
- Eat a mix of prebiotic and probiotic foods to maintain the balance of good bacteria.
- Prebiotic: foods rich in soluble fiber that good gut bacteria love. These include onions, garlic, leeks, shallots, asparagus, beets, cabbage, beans, lentils, soybeans, whole wheat, oats, and bananas
- Probiotic: fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, miso and sauerkraut
- Bone broth is nutrient-dense and great for gut health.
- Avoid inflammatory (sugar, alcohol and gluten) and processed foods to reduce the growth of bad bacteria in your gut.
- As we move into the cooler months, eat more roasted and cooked veggies as these are easy for your gut to breakdown than raw vegetables.
4. Homemade soups
- Making a batch of homemade vegetable soup is a super-easy way of making a nutrient-packed meal.
- Using a bone broth (great for gut health) with immune-supporting ingredients like turmeric, garlic or ginger for extra flavour and health benefits. Soups are perfecting for freezing too for easy mid-week meals or lunches.
5. Medicinal mushrooms
- Shiitake and Reishi are known for their immune-boosting health benefits.
- Reishi – is an adaptogen that helps to boost the body’s response to infection and regulated immune function
- Turkey Tail – is well known to increase immune function.
- More on the health benefits of mushrooms in my upcoming post: Food as Medicine and Natural Health Alternatives.
- The easiest way to use the medicinal mushrooms is with liquid extracts
- I personally use mushroom extracts from Life Cykel and add them to my coffee, tea and cooking. If would like to try any of their products you are welcome to use the discount code MINDBODYTRIBE for 10% off
6. Vegetable Juices
- This is a great way to up your vitamin and mineral intake. My favourite is celery juice or carrot orange and ginger.
- Just be mindful of how much fruit you add to your juice as it will greatly increase your sugar intake.
7. Vitamin C and Beta Carotene
- They are high in antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation.
- Beta-carotene: apricots, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, collards, peaches, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato
- Vitamin C: blueberries, broccoli, grapefruit, kiwi, oranges, lemon, peppers, potatoes, strawberries, tomato
- Add lemon to your water – it’s great for immune health, detoxification and maintaining an alkaline system.
8. Avoid inflammatory foods
- This includes gluten, sugar, alcohol and processed foods.
- Not good for gut health or maintaining an alkaline system.
- An increase in inflammatory food will lead to an increase in oxidation stress within your body – this is not good for your health in general and many diseases starts with inflammation.
I hope you find some of these food and nutrition tips helpful. And know you can boost you immunity simply by choosing fresh produce you can find in your own kitchen.
Don’t forget to pop back to read new post in this series on immune-boosting tips, or catch up on the previous posts:
- (Introduction) Immune Health and Resilience
- (Part 1) Physical Health – Immune boosting tips to maintain good health
Love & Light. Happiness & Health.