If you’ve read my book Eat Beautiful you’ll know that my food philosophy is all about eating what’s fresh, what’s in season, and what’s best for your body. Whether it is foods that help to keep your skin clear and glowing or foods that help you beat the bloat, knowing the benefits of the foods you’re cooking with helps us all to make better choices. So how about ‘immune boosting foods’? This is something that people have been talking about a lot since coronavirus, but can certain foods really help to prevent you from falling ill?
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Nutritionist Kim Pearson told me: “I’m always hesitant to describe foods as ‘immune boosting’, because ‘boosting’ your immune system isn’t necessarily a good thing. A ‘boosted’ immune system implies it’s overactive, indicating an autoimmune disorder where the immune system attacks the body. Therefore, you simply want an immune system that is functioning optimally. Having said that, including foods that help to support a healthy immune system function is obviously a good idea. These include foods that are high in vitamin C, vitamin D, quercetin and curcumin, amongst other things.”
So which foods do help to support a healthy immune system? Here are six foods well worth including in your diet to strengthen your body’s defences against illness.
As Kim mentioned, vitamin C is key for a healthy immune system. Lemons contain vitamin C, which is a strong antioxidant and vital for maintaining a healthy immune function.
Reishi mushrooms are known as ‘the mushroom of immortality’ in Chinese medicine, due to their ‘immune boosting’ (strengthening!) properties. Nutrients found in the cell walls of fungi help to improve your immune system function, you can learn more in my guide to the benefits of mushrooms.
Green tea contains powerful antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which enhances immune function. Four cups a day is the ideal amount for optimal impact.
Ginger is not only useful in strengthening your immune system, it’s also helpful for reducing inflammation and aiding a speedy recovery from illness. Combine it with lemon and manuka honey in hot water for a morning health boost.
Packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene, spinach is often referred to as a ‘superfood’, and for good reason. Cook it as little as possible to retain the maximum amount of nutrients. Try my protein green smoothie recipe.
Curcumin is often spoken about as a magic compound because it boasts so many health benefits. It is often used for pain relief and for its anti-inflammatory properties. You can either supplement or add turmeric to your curries and stews or enjoy a turmeric brew.
If you want to know more about how these ingredients can benefit your skin, or ideas for healthy, delicious recipes that include them, check out my book Eat Beautiful.
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