If I asked you to name one nutrient to help boost your immune system, would I be right in guessing that your answer would be vitamin C? Lemons are one of the first things that spring to mind when you think about fighting off a cold and vitamin C is a really important nutrient for your immune health, but it’s not the only one you need, there’s more!
In the office environment colds and flu bugs can be rife and by consuming the right foods, you can help to increase your immune function. Boosting immunity occurs via a collaboration of physiological processes that call upon different vitamins and minerals and I’ve found some amazing everyday foods that will help you to boost your immunity and fight off the winter cold.
Ginger is a bit of an all-round winner when it comes to health benefits. It’s not only got a wonderful pungent and warming flavour, but it contains two key elements gingerol and shogaol that are key to inhibiting reactions that cause pain, fever and inflammation. Fresh ginger can be sliced and added to hot water with lemon, grated into porridge or added to juices, smoothies and curries.
Oats are an unlikely ingredient when you think of immune boosting foods, but their important role in maintaining optimal gut health is a crucial part of the immunity process. Oats are a prebiotic food that produce short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) through a fermentation process in the gut and a really important mechanism of SCFAs is their ability to defend against infection and a bowl of oats for breakfast, makes for the perfect winter warmer.
In season throughout the winter months, pineapples are not only a good source of vitamin C increasing immune support, but they feature an enzyme called bromelain. Bromelain is found throughout pineapples but in larger quantities in its core. It increases absorption and digestion of nutrients stimulating immune response as well as reducing mucus, which if you do catch a cold will come in handy!
Just one tablespoon of paprika smashes your daily vitamin A requirements. Paprika is packed with carotenoids that give it its deep red colour and more importantly its ability to activate immune boosting lymphocytes and antioxidant qualities. Paprika is great sprinkled over sweet potato wedges (a double whammy of vitamin A!) or added to curries and soups.
Not only does fresh pumpkin have immune boosting benefits as a rich source of vitamin A, pumpkin seeds are also a good source of zinc. Vitamin A boosts antioxidant intake and together with zinc produces and activates immune boosting lymphocytes (white blood cells), so sprinkle some pumpkins seeds over your breakfast and you are onto a winner!
By making small changes to your diet you can make a BIG difference to your health. Incorporating immune boosting foods into your diet every day is the perfect way to make sure you can fight off the winter cold this year and if you need a little kick start, check out my recipe for Sweet Pumpkin Porridge on my nutrition website www.amysavagenutrition.com.