Fighting Colds and Flu: Best Foods to Boost Immunity
As you will have noticed I did not post last week, as I was battling a chest infection so why not write a blog post about our immune system?
In today's fast-paced world, it's more important than ever to prioritize our health and well-being. Our immune system acts as a shield against harmful pathogens and diseases, so it's crucial to give it the attention and care it deserves. In this blog post, we will investigate the immune system and explore some effective strategies to boost its functionality, from a nutrition perspective. So, whether you're looking to strengthen your immune system during cold and flu season or simply want to live a healthier life overall, this blog post is for you. Let's dive in and discover the secrets to a robust immune system!
They say that, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” Good nutrition plays a key role, not only in keeping you from rushing to the medicine cabinet during the season of cold and flu virus, but also in maintaining a healthy immune system. Lacking in one or more of essential nutrients may prevent the immune system from functioning at its peak. The immune system is designed to protect and defend against millions of invaders such as allergens, bacteria, viruses, and other potentially harmful organisms, collectively known as antigens.
Serving as the first line of defence against these invaders are the skin and the membranes that line the entrances to the body. These entrances are the nasal passages, the eyes, and the respiratory and digestive tracts. If these antigens make it past the skin, they have to face the specialised white blood cells called T-lymphocytes, which continuously patrol the body in search of these body invaders. Other cells that keep the body protected from these harmful germs are B-lymphocytes, neutrophils, and macrophages. B-lymphocytes are special blood proteins that neutralize or destroy germs. Neutrophils and macrophages, on the other hand, stop the antigens from the blood for delivery to the lymphatic system, which disposes them. It is important to help these cells to function efficiently in keeping our body protected from bacterial infections.
While essential nutrients are critical for the production and maintenance of key germ-fighting cells in the immune system, a balanced diet also has a strong effect on vascular function. The immune system is dependent on blood flow because the bloodstream is the route along which infection-fighting cells travel throughout the body to where they are needed.
There isn't one specific nutrient or food that can easily remove the cold germs and flu virus spells. Maintaining a well-balanced diet and keeping a healthy eating habit are the best assurance to keep the immune system functioning properly.
Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins A and C. It also has phytochemicals that give fruits and vegetables their beautiful colours. These food groups also contain antioxidants that promote the body's built-in anti-viral and anti-bacterial functions. These nutrients help ensure that the lymphocytes can divide and reproduce properly in response to a virus, and that the neutrophils and macrophages that engulf and kill invading bacteria can do their job. Below are also other key foods which can help to improve the immune system:
Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and limes are excellent sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C is known to stimulate the production of white blood cells, which are essential in fighting off infections. These fruits also contain natural antioxidants that help protect the immune cells from damage.
Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for centuries due to its immune-boosting properties. This powerful bulb contains sulfur compounds that enhance the immune system's response to viruses and bacteria. Adding garlic to your cooking or consuming it raw can provide significant health benefits.
Probiotics found in yogurt can help improve the body's immune response. These live bacteria have been shown to strengthen the gut microbiome, which plays a vital role in the overall functioning of the immune system. Go for plain, unsweetened yogurt with active cultures for the best results.
Ginger is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help reduce inflammation in the body and soothe sore throats. Including ginger in your teas, soups, or stir-fried dishes not only adds a warm and comforting flavour but also supports a healthy immune system.
Dark leafy greens like spinach are packed with essential nutrients and antioxidants that keep the immune system strong. Spinach contains high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as iron and folate, all of which contribute to a healthy immune response.
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E, which is a key nutrient for maintaining a robust immune system. This fat-soluble vitamin acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from damage. Enjoy a handful of almonds as a snack or sprinkle them on salads for an immune-boosting crunch.
Probiotics & Prebiotics
Have you ever considered that gut health could play a role in fighting colds and flu? Believe it or not, maintaining a healthy gut filled with good bacteria, through the intake of probiotics and prebiotics, can improve our immunological efficiency. Foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and a variety of whole grains, are excellent sources of these gut health-boosting elements.
Foods with Allicin
Ever heard of allicin? It’s an organosulfur compound found in garlic and onions that has antiviral and antibacterial properties. Pretty great for keeping away those pesky viruses !
Maximizing the variety of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants can be achieved by eating 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables per day. It is important to consume two different colours of vegetables and fruits with each meal, and one-third of lean protein.
Include a generous amount of protein to ensure production of more white blood cells to help combat the invading antigens. The building blocks of all the body's cells, including the cells that power the immune system, are the amino acids found in protein. Protein and amino acids are essential in increasing immune cell proliferation.
Maintaining a strong immune system is crucial in protecting ourselves from viruses and illnesses. By adopting a healthy and balanced diet, we can change our body's defence mechanisms and strengthen our immune system. Including a variety of immune-boosting foods in our meals, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains, can provide essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants to support our immune function. Additionally, practicing good hygiene, getting enough sleep, managing stress, and staying physically active are also essential factors in enhancing our immune system. Remember, prevention is always better than cure, and making these healthy lifestyle choices can significantly reduce our susceptibility to infections. Let's prioritize our health by making conscious choices to nourish and support our immune system to fight off viruses effectively. Stay healthy, stay safe!