As we approach the middle of winter, and the accompanying cold and flu season, now is the time to focus on natural ways to strengthen our immune system. This is more than just taking a cold and flu tablet, it involves nourishing your whole body with healthy lifestyle practices and especially food....as 70% of your immune system is found in your gut!
1: Fill your diet with nourishing, balanced whole-foods.
The immune system requires many nutrients such as Vitamin A, B, C, D and E, alongside minerals such as zinc, selenium, and omega-3 fatty acids to ensure your immunity. If you base your diet on whole-foods such as fruits, leafy greens, vegetables, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds, you are maximising your intake of these essential nutrients that will support not only your immune system but your overall health!
Minimising your intake of processed foods, fried foods, dairy, artificial sweeteners and refined sugar will also boost your immune system, as these foods suppress and burden your immunity.
Special superstar ingredients and nutrients to focus on include:
Turmeric. What can't this spice do! Turmeric contains the active component curcumin, which is what creates the vibrant yellow-orange hue of the root. Curcumin is an extremely powerful natural anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial compound. The anti-oxidant effect of curcumin means that is has the incredible ability to neutralise free radicals. Free radicals are what are responsible for oxidative stress and damage to cells, so being able to neutralise that is pretty awesome!
It is rich in B vitamins, zinc, iron and manganese.
Vitamin C EVERYTHING. We probably all already know this one. But did you know just how powerful vitamin C is when it comes to your immunity? During viral infections, vitamin C levels in blood quickly decline, impairing your immune system. Although vitamin C can't particularly reduce the occurrence of a cold, it has been found to decrease both the severity and duration of it. Who can say no to a faster recovery from a cold?!
Vitamin C is required by cells of the immune system, has antioxidant effects that protect cells from inflammation and oxidative stress just like our friend curcumin that we mentioned above, andddd a deficiency in Vitamin C deficiency can suppress the immune function.
So load up on this vitamin! Luckily for us, it is extremely easy and delicious to get your intake from whole plant foods.
Powerhouse foods include red capsicum, kiwi fruit, oranges, grapefruits, papaya, sweet potato, dark leafy greens, broccoli, tomatoes....and LEMON! Which can be found in our Lemon Meringue slice also alongside turmeric!
Our Lemon Meringue slice that contains both lemon and turmeric.
Spirulina: Spirulina the superfood algae, has been found to be extremely beneficial for boosting the immune system and also contains anti-allergic properties. Spirulina is rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals and has been found in studies to enhance the ability of macrophages in the body that engulf bacteria.
A delicious way to consume spirulina is in our Spirulina and Goji cake, which is also packed full of the immune boosting properties of goji berries. Win-win!
Other ingredients to load up on include ginger, garlic, cayenne pepper, and onion. The perfect reason to make up a big veggie soup!
2: Get enough sleep.
Increasing your sleep to atleast 7-8 hours will increase your body's ability to rejuvenate and strengthen itself. Try to unwind before bed by getting off technology and screens, and creating a relaxing bedtime routine that involves things like taking a bath, meditating and reading.
3: Stay hydrated.
Water is always a must for your health, but especially important to your immunity as it supports the production of lymph, which is a carrier for your white blood cells.
4: Get some sunshine!
Vitamin D levels and immunity go hand in hand. Vitamin D, which is actually a hormone that our body produces in response to sun exposure, is extremely important in modulating immune responses and strengthens the overall system. Gentle morning and late afternoon exposure without sunscreen is very beneficial. Vitamin D also has the ability to help immune cells identify and destroy viruses and bacteria.
5: Stress reduction
When we are stressed, our immune system takes a hit. Our susceptibility to infections increases, and our ability to fight off antigens reduces. Think about how you get sick always when it's the worst timing, right before a big project at work, exam time at school...it's not a coincidence!
Incorporating stress reduction techniques into your lifestyle such as moderate exercise (also beneficial as an immune booster), meditation, reading, yoga, getting outside into nature, listening to music and spending time with family, friends and pets is a great way to nourish our nervous system and reduce our stress responses.
Including the above tips into your routine should help to reduce your chances of catching anything nasty this winter, as well as supporting your overall health and wellbeing. Don't forget to check out our plant-based desserts full of nourishing whole-foods as a delicious way to incorporate some immune boosting ingredients into your body!