Your immunity is central to overall wellbeing. If your immune system is strong, then most other things can be taken into hand.April 01, 2020 2:46 pm
Nourishing your immune system through whole foods is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. This is not a diet or a seven-day plan. It is a way of life, a way of being.
What foods are good for your immune system, then? Lucky number seven! Here we go with seven immunity-boosting foods.
1. Foods high in vitamin C: bergamot and sea buckthorn
Vitamin C tops the list of immunity-boosting natural substances. If there is one thing you do towards strengthening immunity, make it enhancing your diet with plenty of foods integrally rich in vitamin C. Moreover, these foods are delicious and bright. To clarify, there is little reason to resort to supplements. This vitamin boosts immunity in many different ways. Perhaps most significantly, vitamin C helps with many different functions of both the adaptive and the innate immune systems. It is anti-microbial and a strong antioxidant, helping your body deal with environmental toxins. People who are deficient in vitamin C are more susceptible to infections.(1)
Most people think of citrus fruits in connection to vitamin C, but there are many other things you can do beyond your orange juice in the morning. For example, bergamot is a citrus fruit you may not eat regularly. Moreover, this fruit is a zesty, tangy combination of bright lemon and abundant orange.
Don’t forget that dark berries are also a good source of Vitamin C, and wonderfully easy to make a regular part of your diet, from your morning yoghurt to snacking through the day. Sea buckthorn is another good source of Vitamin C, and may be an intriguing addition to your diet if you are not already familiar with this strong, exotic flavour. This wonder berry, sometimes called the holy fruit of the Himalayas, is also a wonderful plant-based source all of the omegas. Intrigued? Check these articles out.
2. Black cumin seed oil (nigella sativa)
Intensely antimicrobial, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and antiviral, cold-pressed black seed oil is a wonderfully potent substance. Further, black seeds were found in King Tut’s tomb(2), which is how long they have been around – and how long people have trusted them. Black seed oil contains thymoquinone, a powerful phytochemical compound which may offer profound healing capacities. Further, researchers have also suggested that black seed oil may be an immune modulator.(3) That is to say, an immune modulator is a substance that can restore, activate, or boost normal immune function.
3. Medicinal mushrooms
Ancient China, Mexico, Egypt, Greece, and Rome all turned to medicinal mushrooms for immune health. This group of mushrooms includes oyster, shiitake, turkey tail, royal agaricus, maitake, and reishi mushrooms among many others. To clarify, research has looked widely into the incredible bioactive compounds that these mushrooms offer us. These include beta-glucans, powerful polysaccharides which increase immunity by boosting macrophages, enhancing the complement system, and supporting killer cells, among other things.(4) Moreover, mushrooms offer a number of valuable nutrients including selenium and potassium. Most definitely, these funghi offer a number of anti-microbial compounds that are not easily found elsewhere.(5)
4. Probiotics for gut health
Certainly, we are beginning to understand more about the delicate, complex relationship between the gut microbiome and the immune system. The miraculously rich variety of good bacteria contained in our guts keep us in balance. If these bacteria are not nourished, researchers think that we may be more at risk of autoimmune disorders.(6) To clarify, autoimmune disorders occur when your body mistakenly attacks itself. They include lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and MS.
Including fermented probiotics in your diet is a wonderful way of helping regulate your gut microbiome, as well as quite tasty! Sauerkraut, kimchi, kombucha, and miso will all feed the healthy microbes in your gut. A wider variety of gut flora will flourish and help keep your immunity in check.
Hans Christian Andersen put it, “Just living isn't enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower."
5. Raw garlic, fresh ginger, and Manuka honey
This classic combination is backed by experience, grandmothers – and science. Aliicin is the main ingredient in garlic that gives it its healthful properties and antibacterial properties. Moreover, you will get more allicin from your garlic if you crush or chop your garlic. However, be sure to use your garlic straight after you prepare it.(7)
Further, a lab study suggested that Manuka honey was almost as effective as antiviral drugs when used against the flu.(8) However, it is important to note that this refers to authentic Manuka honey of medium to high grade, which is difficult to source. Be certain that you search this grade of honey out if you are after these deep healing properties rather than flavour. Finally, scientists have looked into the anti-inflammatory properties of fresh ginger.(9) Meanwhile, these ingredients bring out the best in one another when used together with lemon in various juxtapositions.(10)
6. Foods rich in zinc and selenium
To reiterate, maintaining a healthy, varied diet filled with all sorts of nutrients is important for the immune system. To clarify, the entire palette is needed to maintain the best immune defences. Neither is it helpful to get too much of any one mineral or vitamin. However, there are some elements that are especially important.
Macrophages, or ‘eating cells’, and T-white blood cells are both central players in the immune system. Further, both depend on selenium to function properly. In addition, Brazil nuts are a rich source of selenium. On the other hand, zinc is also essential for optimal operation of your immune defenses. That is to say, zinc is required for many basic cell functions and therefore a fundamental for basic balance of our bodies. Pumpkin seeds are a wonderful source of zinc.(11)
Mulberry leaves are a lovely flavour to add to your larder if you do not have them in stock. Fans of citrus fruits will appreciate the sweet, tart combination. This berry is deeply refreshing in more ways than one. Mulberry comes into play for both cell mediated immunity and humoral immunity. It is valuable to phagocytes, or eating cells, which are instrumental in immunity, and also plays a significant role in several other cell functions connected to overall immunity.(12) Mulberry is also anti-viral, anti-microbial, and anti-bacterial.(13) All of this means that mulberry is highly effective against a variety of pathogens. To sum up, all good news for immunity.
Sunshine and freedom
As the timeless dreamer, humanist, storyteller and philosopher Hans Christian Andersen put it, “Just living isn’t enough,” said the butterfly, “one must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower.” True freedom lies in complete wellbeing – and immunity is key to complete wellbeing.
In conclusion: may you all have immunity, sunshine, freedom and a little flower.
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(1) Carr AC and Maggini S, “Vitamin C and Immune Function”, Nutrients, 2017, https://bit.ly/2wT1M0o
(2) Padhye et al, “From here to eternity – the secret of Pharaohs: Therapeutic potential of black cumin seeds and beyond”, Cancer Therapy, 2008, https://bit.ly/39Bib6O
(3) Mahboubi, Mohaddese, “Natural therapeutic approach of Nigella sativa (Black seed) fixed oil in management of Sinusitis”, Integrative Medicine Research, 2018, https://bit.ly/3dRci9h
(4) Akramiene et al, “Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system.” Medicina (kaunas), 2007, https://bit.ly/2UCwLHj
(5) Valverde et al, “Edible Mushrooms: Improving Human Health and Promoting Quality Life”, International Journal of Microbiology, 2015, https://bit.ly/2JvReXH.
(6) Wu, Hsin-Jung and Wu, Eric, “The role of gut microbiota in immune homeostasis and autoimmunity”, Gut Microbes, 2012, https://bit.ly/34217pr.
(7) Bayan et al, “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects” Avicenna Journal of Phytomedicine, 2014, https://bit.ly/3dNerTi.
(8) Watanabe et al, “Anti-influenza Viral Effects of Honey In Vitro: Potent High Activity of Manuka Honey”, Archives of Medical Research, 2014, https://bit.ly/2UB5JzT.
(9) Bode, Ann M. and Dong, Zigang. “The Amazing and Mighty Ginger”, Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects, https://bit.ly/2R333bZ.
(10) Mathai et al, “Antimicrobial Effect of Ginger, Garlic, Honey, and Lemon Extracts on Streptococcus mutans.” Journal of Dental Practice, 2017, https://bit.ly/3403I3r.
(11) Ferencik, M and Ebringer, L. “Modulatory effects of selenium and zinc on the immune system.” Folia Microbiology, https://bit.ly/3bLkpSW.
(12) Bharani et al, “Immunomodulatory activity of methanolic extract of Morus alba Linn. (mulberry) leaves.” Pakistani Journal of Pharmalogical Science, 2010, https://bit.ly/3dO8llk.
(13) de Oliveria et al, “Evaluation of Toxicity and Antimicrobial Activity of an Ethanolic Extract from Leaves of Morus alba L. (Moraceae)”, Evidence Based Complementary Alternative Medicine, 2015, https://bit.ly/34cPZXb.