Protect Your Health By Giving Your Immune System A Boost
White blood cells are the central cells in the immune system to help ward off colds, flu and unwanted bacteria. They are almost instantaneously drawn to and eat up anything that is not meant to be in the body. They possess a remarkable, innate defensive and healing capacity. Sometimes though, immunity becomes burdened from:
- increased demands placed upon it: for example by catching a virulent flu which takes hold in the body
- a toxic burden distracts immune cells which are busy cleansing by-products from poor diet and lifestyle choices
- white blood cells don’t have the nutrients to draw on for optimal function because of nutrient deficiencies and sub-optimal nutritional intake
Foods which can help support immunity include:
- brazil nuts
Whenever possible, organic produce is preferred as this not only protects the environment from toxic chemicals but also protects your body from having to metabolise, detoxify and excrete pesticide and chemical residues. If organic is not easily available, then regular produce will still do a fantastic job to support your immune system!
The Magic is in the Pigments – Eat More Colourful Foods
Carrots and other yellow, orange and red vegetables including sweet potato contain an abundance of betacarotene. Enzymes in the body convert betacarotene to vitamin A, which is vital for immune function and for mopping up cellular waste from white blood cells after they eat up invading bacteria.
Similarly, foods high in vitamin C, including citrus, lemons, broccoli, and dark leafy vegetables mop up the by-products released from white blood cells and reduce the inflammation when the immune system attacks bacteria. This action from vitamin C improves immunity and makes a person feel better when they have the flu. Also, onions and apples contain a compound called quercetin which can help reduce inflammation and allergic reactions and increase the potency of vitamin C.
Get the Blood Flowing
Ginger and chilli improve blood flow, enhance digestion, are cleansing, warming and promote the release of toxins by sweating, often making a sick person feel better. Garlic, nature’s antibiotic, kills harmful bacteria in the intestines and reduces free-radical damage and inflammation. These are all brilliant superfoods to boost immunity!
Which Nutrients Give Your Immunity A Helping Hand?
Just two brazil nuts per day contain a therapeutic dose of selenium, nutritional medicine’s forgotten immune nutrient! Selenium stimulates detoxification and supports white blood cell activity, eating up bad bacteria to improve the immune response.
Also, zinc is one of the most important immune-stimulating minerals, and nuts and seeds, including walnuts, almonds, and pumpkin seeds are an amazing source of zinc. White blood cells store zinc, and a diet high in zinc enhances their function both in the long and short term.
Top Tips to Flush Out a Cold or Flu:
- Fresh tea with thyme, ginger, garlic, chilli and a wedge of lemon
- Fresh juice with pineapple, orange, carrot, ginger and lemon
Digestion and Immunity – Why is it Important?
Finally, we need to think about our gut microbiome. All the good bacteria that naturally live in your body need fuel to thrive, and if you support healthy gut function with fibre rich foods, the immune system benefits as well.
It’s funny to think that some foods feed the good probiotic bacteria in your body! These are called prebiotics which contain fermentable fibres that stimulate the growth and activity of bacteria in the digestive system. Food such as asparagus, leek, onion, oats, chia seeds, apples and legumes such as black beans, lentils, chickpeas and beans and peas contain fermentable fibre which feeds the good bacteria. This supports the lymphatic system to mount a good immune response to invading pathogens.
Not only does a healthy gut microbiome support proper lymphatic function, and hence good immunity – a healthy gut also improves absorption of crucial nutrients required by the immune system.
A Final Thought
To support overall immunity, it is best to eat some form of fruit, vegetable, nuts, seeds or legumes at every meal or most meals. Limit meat and animal products, and enjoy your delicious superfoods – which not only support your immunity but many aspects of healthy living!
About the Author
Max Hacker is a naturopath, nutritionist and registered nurse with a passion for healthy eating. He has a passion for education, including dispelling myths and misconceptions about healthy eating and how to use food as medicine to promote health and wellness naturally!