Buy Locally and Eat Organic
When it comes to fighting off bugs, eating a variety of fresh, organic (preferably raw) vegetables is a sure fire way to get a good dose of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and enzymes. The older the produce, the more the nutrient value drops. Buying vegetables that are grown locally cuts down the storage and travel time, ensuring optimal nutritional content.Curly Kale is a good vegetable to have in your produce tool belt because it grows well over winter. Just when you need your guard up against bacterial and viral infections, kale provides important vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. If you don’t enjoy the stiffness of fresh kale leaves, but still want all the benefits of this superfood, organic dried kale powder is a good alternative. Rich in antioxidants and a good source of dietary fibre, calcium and iron, it’s perfect added to smoothies, salads, cooked vegetables or even in a salad dressing.
Beetroot also has an impressive immune-boosting profile. By stimulating the production of new red blood cells, beetroot improves the flow of oxygen to cells and tissues, enhancing the body’s immune responses. Beetroot also helps to balance the body’s pH balance, lowering the acid levels that bacteria need to survive. It’s also delicious and full of rich antioxidants, making it a great addition to juices, smoothies or your favourite baking recipe.
A nice, convenient alternative to raw beetroot is organic beetroot powder. It still has all the immune-boosting goodies of fresh beetroot, as well as nitrate, potassium and dietary fibre.
This delicious juice is easy to make and will help to purify your blood if you drink it 2-3 times a week:
Juice equal amounts of beetroot, carrot, celery, tomato and lemon. (Both raw and powdered beetroot work beautifully in this juice.)
Know Your Vitamins
There are certain vitamins our body’s tend to lack in winter that our immune system needs to function optimally. Luckily, nature caters to those needs by producing fruits and vegetables full of the vitamins we require at the exact time we need it.
Both Vitamin C and A are really great immune boosters. Carrots, pumpkin and sweet potato are excellent sources of Vitamin A. Kiwifruit, capsicum, citrus fruits, berries and tomatoes are all naturally rich in vitamin C and antioxidants.
To get the most out of your produce, it’s always best to eat it raw – but that doesn’t mean you have to munch on carrot sticks for every meal. Check out this recipe for raw Zesty Citrus Bliss Balls; they’re packed with vitamin C and are absolutely delicious.
Kiwifruit is particularly high in Vitamin C, and maintains its nutritional value for a long time, even after it has been harvested. Even after six months in storage, a kiwifruit will retain about 90% of its Vitamin C!
Vitamin D is also vital for your immune system. In New Zealand, we get most of our Vitamin Dfrom the sun, but when we have days without sunshine, eggs, sardines and fortified dairy products can help. Alternatively, supplements such as Good Health Vitamin D3 can provide up to 100% of your recommended daily intake.
Vitamin E is another powerful antioxidant. Good sources include sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, avocados and peanut butter.
Protein, Protein and More Protein
Protein is what allows your body to heal and is essential for a healthy immune system. The best part is that it’s easy enough to get the protein our body needs; just add meat, chicken, fish, eggs, or legumes and nuts to your lunches and dinners.
Increase Your Minerals
As well as protein, meat and legumes are a good source of iron. Your immune system relies on sufficient iron to help it fight infection. Iron deficiency can cause anaemia, which has many unpleasant symptoms including making you more susceptible to colds and flu.
Zinc is needed for the cells that fight infections (T cells and Natural Killer cells). When you’re experiencing cold or flu symptoms, the Zinc your body stores is used up more quickly (fighting infections). For this reason, a higher intake is needed. Zinc deficiency is very common in New Zealand. Increasing your Zinc intake with red meat, seafood, eggs, nuts and seeds (especially pumpkin seeds) will supercharge your immune system.
Selenium is another essential mineral for overall immunity, but infections deplete the body’s levels. One of the best natural sources of selenium (as well as Vitamin E) is Brazil nuts.
Eat Your Heart Out
Coconut Oil contains medium-chain fatty acids that disrupt the lipid membranes of organisms that cause harm to our bodies, specifically our immune system. Adding a tablespoon to smoothies, porridge or cooked veges is a delicious way to enhance your immune system.
Berries have one of the richest antioxidant levels of any fruit or vegetable. They contain powerful phytochemicals, such as anthocyanin, which have many positive effects on the immune system
Propolis is a resin collected by bees to protect their hives from bacteria and fungi, but it also has protective properties for humans. It’s rich in compounds that improve immunity for a number of illnesses particularly respiratory infections.
Garlic is one of the most effective natural anti-microbials found in food because of the active component called Allicin. Allicin is effective against a wide range of bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses, and is incredibly beneficial to your immune system because of its ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells. Eating a little garlic every day during the winter months is a brilliant way to give your immune system a boost. To ensure you’re reaping the benefits, it’s important that your garlic is fresh since the active ingredient is destroyed within one hour of smashing the garlic cloves.
Staying hydrated by drinking lots of water, herbal teas and broths creates a less favourable environment for viruses, improving the function of the immune system.
For an immune enhancing drink, squeeze the juice of a lemon or two into a mug, add some manuka honey, grated ginger and boiling water. Leave for 5-10 minutes and enjoy.
Having a healthy, balanced diet is key for an optimal immune system, but if you feel you’re not quite getting the nutrients your body needs from food alone, supplements can help to support you though the winter months when your body’s demands are higher. To protect your immune system, try Viralex for everyday immune support. If you do become unwell with winter ills and chills, Viralex Attack works in just two hours, allowing you to get on with your life.