With the New Year on the horizon the last thing you want to be doing is entering 2018 feeling sorry for yourself, with a sky-high temperature, snuggled under a duvet. If you want to give your immunity a healthy boost, to help you feel revitalised and refreshed have a look at what’s on your plate. Our experts share the foods that you should opt for…
Virgin Coconut oil
“The type of fat found in coconuts may help protect you against various viral, bacterial and fungal infections,” explains Pippa Campbell, (1) Nutrition & Weight Loss Coach.
“Although we think of fruit as being high in vitamin C, vegetables are often better sources. This is certainly true for broccoli, which can contain more than our RDA of vitamin C in just 100 grams (about one third of a head of broccoli). Broccoli also has anti-inflammatory properties and can support detoxification too, both of which can help us to stay well – or feel better faster. Because heat can destroy vitamin C, broccoli must be only lightly cooked to get the most benefits – steam it for no more than four minutes,” explains Nutritionist Cassandra Barns.
To support your vitamin C levels further, try the new vegan Natures Plus Source of Life Garden (29.95, revital.co.uk), (2) which is grown from certified organic wholefoods.
“Ayurvedic medicine (3) has relied on ginger’s ability to boost your immune system before recorded history. It’s believed that ginger helps to break down the accumulation of toxins in our organs due to its warming effects. It’s also known to cleanse the lymphatic system, our network of tissues and organs that help rid the body of toxins, waste and other unwanted materials,” suggests Pippa.
Oysters are super-high in zinc, a crucial mineral for our immune system. In fact, they’re rich in a plethora of immune-supporting nutrients including selenium, vitamin B12, iron and vitamin A. Oysters are in season over winter, so it’s the ideal time to give them a try. However, if you can’t stand the thought of these slippery molluscs, then beef and lamb are good sources of zinc, as are pumpkin seeds and sesame seeds,” explains Cassandra.
“Ginseng can help you to boost your immune system and fight infections. The roots, stems and leaves of ginseng have been used for maintaining immune homeostasis and enhancing resistance to illness or infection. It also has antimicrobial compounds that work as a defense mechanism against bacterial and viral infections,” says Pippa.
“Vitamin D is vital for immunity. And it’s one nutrient that we have to pay particular attention to in winter, when we don’t get any through sunlight. A few foods contain vitamin D in useful amounts, and one of the top players is salmon: it can provide around 600–700 IU in 100 grams – enough to cover the current recommended daily intake. As a bonus, salmon is also high in vitamin B12 and selenium, two other critical nutrients for your immune system; and of course omega-3 fatty acids. If you can, go for wild sockeye salmon for the greatest benefits,” explains Cassandra.
To make sure you’re getting your daily dose of vitamin D try Quest Nutra Pharma’s Once A Day Sunshine D (from £3.09, www.qnutrapharma.com). (4)
“Early civilisations recognised the value of garlic in fighting infections. Garlic is even more immune boosting if eaten raw, unless you have gut issues and can’t tolerate it this way. Add it to soups, stews and salad dressings,” advises Pippa.
“Of all fruits, kiwis come out as one of the highest in vitamin C – often better than oranges. I always stock up on kiwi fruits if I’m coming down with a cold or trying to get over one,” explains Cassandra.
“Oregano essential oil is known for its healing and immune-boosting properties. It fights infections naturally due to its anti-fungal, antibacterial, antiviral and anti-parasite compounds,” says Pippa.
“Orange veg such as carrots, sweet potatoes and butternut squash are ideal to load up on in winter. They contain lots of beta-carotene, which our body can use to make vitamin A – a vital nutrient both for immunity and also for the mucous membranes – the ‘inner linings’ of our body, including those of our lungs and respiratory passages. Add plenty of orange veg to your winter stews, or roast them in big batches to eat as a side with any meal,” advises Cassandra.