At times like these it is so important to keep your immune system as strong as possible. One of the most common ways to stay healthy is to adopt new habits that strengthen your immunity. That includes getting enough sleep, managing stress, washing your hands properly and of course being active.
However, one of the easiest preventions is popping round to your local greengrocer. While no food or supplement can cure or even 100% prevent you from catching a virus like the coronavirus or the flu, some foods have been shown to help improve immunity.
Most people turn to vitamin C after they've caught a cold. That’s because it helps build up your immune system so increasing your Vitamin C intake could help prevent catching it in the first place. It’s thought to increase the production of white blood cells which are key to fighting infections.
Citrus fruits include:
Health official’s advise you consume vitamin C daily for continued health as your body is not able to produce or store it. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C and with so many to choose from, it's easy to add into your daily diet.
Sticking with the theme of vitamin C if you think citrus fruits have the most of any fruit or veg then think again. Red bell peppers actually contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. Who knew?
They're also a rich source of a chemical compound called beta carotene which, once in the body, coverts to vitamin A. Vitamin A can also be good for a strong immune system as well as healthy skin and eyes.
Tip: On average cravings last for 20 minutes so next time you crave chocolate or biscuits replace it with a sliced up red pepper
Broccoli is packed with multiple vitamins and minerals such as vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber. Believe me when I say broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can put on your plate. They say the key to getting as many benefits as possible is to cook it as little as possible or even better still, not at all (this might come down to personal preference).
Just like vitamin A vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes. It’s also one of the best at strengthening the body’s natural defense against illness and infection.
Garlic is found in almost every cuisine around the world. It adds a little extra zing to food and it's a must-have for your health. It's been recognised for years its value in fighting infections.
According to research garlic actually has many more proven health benefits including reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol, improving bone health and reduced risks of certain cancers.
I know what you're thinking... garlic breath is totally worth it right!
Ginger is yet another ingredient many turn to after and during illness. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses.
A common drink during illness is lemon, ginger and honey with hot water. This soothes and relieves cold and flu symptoms, helps with digestives issues (and keeps metabolism fired up) and strengthens the immune system.
Spinach made the top 10 not just because it's rich in vitamin C but because it's also packed with numerous antioxidants and, just like red peppers, beta carotene. Similarly, to broccoli, spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. Plus, we all know how disappointing the quantity looks once spinach is cooked…
Tip: Use frozen spinach!
Yoghurts can be high in protein, calcium and vitamins. The yoghurts to look out for have "live and active cultures" printed on the label, like Greek yoghurt. These cultures may help stimulate your immune system to fight diseases. If Greek yoghurt is a little bitter for you try adding some fresh fruit or a little bit of honey.
Yoghurt can also be a great source of vitamin D, which helps regulate the immune system and is thought to boost our body’s natural defenses against diseases.
You may know turmeric as a key ingredient in many curries. But this bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory. Also, research suggests that high concentrations of curcumin, which gives turmeric its distinctive color, can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage. Good for any gym goer.
Many people have taken to taking lemon, ginger and turmeric shots. All three of which are included in our top 10 immune system boosting foods. Bottoms up!
“It’s the healthiest thing I can think of to drink” – Christopher Ochner.
Green tea contains multiple antioxidants and poly-phenols which is what causes it to have so many health benefits. Some benefits of green tea are still being debated however they include weight loss, reduced cholesterol, reduced blood pressure, tooth decay and many more.
And finally, for the homeliest, feel good food of them all… chicken soup. Not only does it have a huge placebo effect, but it helps improve symptoms of a cold and also helps protect you from getting sick in the first place. Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is also high in vitamin B6 which, along with other B vitamins, helps the body turn food into energy.
Of course, there are many more ways to prevent things like the common cold and flu than just improving your diet. But eating right is a pretty good place to start!
I was inspired to write this article when faced with the prospect of home isolation not because of the corona virus but because of other unrealated symptoms that mean the Govt now suggests I self isolate. Fact is I dont want to be stuck at home any more but didn't want to take any chances. That meant one thing... get healthy and fast.
Romilly Newbound, BIA Events Manager & Daughter of founders.