How to bolster your immune system – my top 5 foods and drinks

How to bolster your immune system – my top 5 foods and drinks

By Jenny Tschiesche BSc(Hons) Dip(ION) FdSc BANT

The immune system works to neutralise and remove pathogens like bacteria, viruses, parasites or fungi that enter the body. Bolstering your immune system does not happen overnight but strengthening your immune response with lifestyle changes and the use of immune-boosting foods can help to build a strong and resilient body.

 

Ginger

According to a study published in the November 2012 issue of the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology” fresh ginger prevented human respiratory syncytial virus, or HRSV, from attaching to and infecting upper respiratory tract cells. The ginger stimulates the respiratory cells to secrete an antiviral protein. Other studies show that ginger can enhance the antioxidant defence mechanisms of the body, as well as providing anti-inflammatory effects to the body. *

Enjoy Ginger:

Grated in hot water, stir-fries, curries, soups, and smoothies

 

Kimchi

Gut permeability is a major cause of food sensitivities and a weakened immune system. Kimchi is a delicious probiotic food packed full of immune-boosting ingredients such as garlic, cabbage, and ginger. It is a staple in Korea where it is eaten with almost every meal, including breakfast. Kimchi is high in fibre, vitamins, and minerals. Lactobacillus, the same bacteria used to make yogurt, is used in the fermentation of kimchi. Lactobacillus is valued for its ability to aid in digestion maintaining a balance of bacteria in the gut which in turn supports a healthy immune system.

Enjoy Kimchi:

As a condiment, as you would enjoy pickled vegetables, in soups, in salads, straight from the jar!

 

Citrus Fruits

Citrus fruits improve the health of your immune system by providing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.  Studies show that getting enough vitamin C (along with zinc - see 'Pumpkin Seeds' below) in your diet helps to reduce the symptoms of respiratory infections and shorten the duration of illnesses like the common cold and bronchitis.  

Enjoy Citrus Fruits:

In smoothies, in hot water, in curries

citrus fruit

Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are an excellent source of the mineral zinc. If you do not get enough of this mineral, the cells that protect your body from viruses and bacteria — lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages — can't do their job as well. In fact, short-term zinc deficiency causes a decrease in immunity while chronic deficiency also increases inflammation.

Enjoy Pumpkin Seeds:

Ground in pancakes, in energy or bliss balls with dried fruit and cacao powder, on cereals, in homemade granola, in salads, in a homemade pesto and on top of soups.

 

Green Tea

Several studies** have also shown that green tea has antimicrobial properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria and viruses. Two particular polyphenol catechins, -epigallocatechingallate(EGCG) and –epicatechingallate(ECG) have the ability to suppress the activities of bacterial and viral factors. Studies*** show that regular consumption of green tea can serve to maintain an alert immune system ready to respond to pathogens as a first line of defence.

Enjoy Green Tea:

Drink a good-quality green tea daily.

green tea

 

*https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22763741/

*https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21491265/

** https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2763290/

*** https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12719524/