Well! Cold weather means huddling up inside and, unfortunately, being more susceptible to winter bugs. For busy working moms, the difference between staying healthy and on top of things or succumbing to a nasty virus, often boils down to a strong immune system. You could eat yourself stronger by incorporating these superfoods into your diet!
Regularly tuck into these natural immune boosters, all easily obtainable from a grocery or health store near you, and reap the rewards in the form of a strong immune system, healthy skin, more energy and better mood:
Immuneboosting “superherbs” can be taken regularly like food. One good example is Moringa, a plant that’s native to the foothills of the Himalayas. Another is ginseng, known throughout the world for its energy-restoring and strength-building properties. It’s a so-called “adaptogen” that helps the body to adapt to stressful everyday conditions.
These are plant foods that are particularly high in health-boosting nutrients. Superfoods to include in your diet are:
- Camu camu, a small fruit native to the Amazon rain forest. It’s one of the most concentrated sources of vitamin C and a powerful antioxidant. It can be taken daily with lemon and honey as an immunity elixir, and is ideal for kids as it can be added to drinks, is free of sugar, and can be dosed according to requirements.
- Baobab is a fantastic source of dietary fibre, which acts as “food” (prebiotics) for the friendly bacteria in your gut that play an important role in immunity. Baobab contains pectin (a form of fibre), calcium, vitamin C and iron, thus making it a potent immune-boosting food.
- Mushrooms have been used as natural immune boosters for centuries. Japanese shrooms are particularly powerful as they’re packed with ergothianeine, a form of vitamin D and an antioxidant that’s not destroyed during the cooking process. Mushrooms increase the production and activity of the white blood cells, which fight infections. Shiitake, Maitake and Reishi appear to be most effective and can be eaten daily.
3. Green tea
Regularly sip on green tea. This popular Chinese beverage helps to keep inflammation in check, scavenges for disease-causing free radicals in the body and protects the cells against DNA damage.
4. Colourful fruits and vegetables
Plants contain thousands of natural compounds called phytochemicals that help protect them from germs, fungi and other threats. These chemicals can also protect you.
Go for organic and seasonal fruit and vegetables if you can, as these tend to hold more nutrients. Bright vegetables are also best eaten raw.
The most powerful of all food antioxidants are found in the berry family, e.g. blueberries, blackberries, cranberries and strawberries. Anthocyanins give berries their rich, deep colours (e.g. deep red or purple). What’s more, berries also contain impressive amounts of vitamin C.
Examples of other immunity-boosting phytochemicals – and their food sources – include:
- Yellow-coloured carotenoids in sweet potato and yellow pumpkin
- Red-coloured lycopene in tomatoes and guava
- White allicin in garlic
- Quercetin in onions
- Resveratrol in red grapes and red wine
5. Probiotics, prebiotics and cultured foods
The digestive tract, your immune system’s frontline defense, relies on live bacteria (or “microflora”) to work efficiently. Both pre- and probiotics support immune health by promoting the growth of beneficial intestinal bacteria, and should be incorporated into your diet every day.
An excellent source of probiotics is plain, cultured yoghurt – something that’s well worth eating every day – while good sources of prebiotics include asparagus, banana and chicory. Other good sources of both pre- and probiotics include fermented, cultured foods such as kimchi, kombucha, guar gum, sauerkraut and kefir.
6. Whey protein
Whey protein that’s isolated from milk is easily absorbed and contains potent antioxidants. Whey-protein powders can be added to breakfasts and shakes, especially if you wish to increase and maintain your overall resilience when exercising.
7. Detoxifying agents
Some compounds aid the body in its detoxifying process. In this way, it reduces the load on the immune system. One example is chlorophyll, an antioxidant found in all green vegetables.To reap the benefits, munch on greens as much as possible…
The mineral and antioxidant zinc is an often overlooked, yet extremely important immune booster. It aids healing and keeps infections at bay. It’s found predominately in beef, which is why vegetarians should pay close attention to their zinc intake. Another good source is pumpkin seeds.