Nutrients for immune health that aren't vitamin C
Often when we think of foods that help us to strengthen our immune system we think of vitamin C right? While vitamin C can certainly help, there are heaps of other foods that contain powerful properties to keep our immune system healthy, some of which may be surprising.
Ultimately, having a healthy body overall by eating the right balance of nutrient-dense foods and moving our bodies will certainly improve the overall function of your immune system. Getting plenty of antioxidant-rich foods such as fruits and veggies as well as fibre-filled legumes and whole grains are all going to help you and your immune system stay well. There are also some other MVPs that shouldn’t go without mention.
For centuries humans have recognised the value of garlic in fighting infections. Garlic’s immune-supporting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin. Best of all – garlic makes food taste amazing! Add a bit extra to your soups and stews this winter.
Brew yourself a hot lemon and ginger drink this winter to fight the cold and help to reduce inflammation. Not only do you have the vitamin C from the lemon but you have the beneficial properties of ginger to soothe your tummy and warm you up.
Yoghurt is getting a specific mention here for a couple of reasons. Firstly, when you choose a yoghurt with ‘live active cultures’ you know you’re getting the benefits of probiotics which can help to stimulate your immune system. A healthy immune system relies on a healthy gut and probiotics are a great way to give it some love. In some brands of yoghurt, they are also fortified with vitamin D which helps to regulate our immune system as well. With less sunshine, our bodies can often become lower in vitamin D over the winter months.
While yoghurt provides a double whammy, other probiotic foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, Kimchi and miso should not be overlooked.
Cook up some mushrooms and toast because these little buttons are rich in B vitamins, riboflavin and niacin which all play a role in a healthy immune system.
Oysters are a great source of zinc which is a common supplement recommended to ward off colds, flu and other viruses by helping our body activate its immune response. Pumpkin seeds can also be a source of zinc as is red meat and chicken.
These include whole grains, bananas, onions and garlic, but eating a variety of natural foods overall will certainly ensure you’re getting a good source of prebiotics. Prebiotics feed the microorganisms in our gut and thus help to support our immune function.
Overall, there is no one food that can magically “boost” our immune system, but being mindful of getting a variety of fruits and veggies and whole grains and other natural foods will certainly support our immune health overall.
When it comes to supplementation, you could certainly consider vitamin C, D or Zinc – but I tend to stick to my Good Green Vitality and Kids Good Stuff, as it contains all of the above and more, providing a wide range of ingredients that help to regulate inflammation and support healthy immune function including turmeric, ginger and mushroom. It’s also a good source of probiotic foods and provides additional immune system support by keeping our gut healthy with prebiotics and other boosters such as flaxseed and psyllium husk amongst other things. It’s a great way to fill any gaps in our diet and give our immune system some love. I’ve been taking it daily for nearly 8 years now and can’t remember the last time I had a cold and while correlation doesn’t mean causation – I can’t deny that it’s giving my body and immune system lots of love and support.
The information provided in this article is intended for educational purposes only and is general advice. It should not, nor is it intended to be, relied on as a substitute for individual medical advice or care. If the contents of this, or any other of the blogs in this series raises any concerns or questions regarding your health, please consult a qualified healthcare practitioner.