There are times of the year, winter in particular, where we need to increase our immunity to fight off the nasty colds and flu’s that are floating around (did someone say Coronavirus?). Certain foods contain vital nutrients that can boost your immune system, helping you avoid the doctor’s office and reducing the severity of your symptoms.

The following foods/nutrients can fuel your immune system and help your body fight infections.

Zinc is essential to a healthy immune system. It helps white blood cells and other antibodies reproduce more quickly, and it makes them more aggressive so they’re better at fighting off infections. Zinc also prevents bacterial and viral growth directly, either by poisoning the infectious agents or encouraging immune reaction at the site of infection.

Zinc deficiency can depress immune system function. Severe deficiency can shut the immune system down completely, so chomp on some beef, chicken, salmon, nuts or seeds today!

Garlic contains allicin, ajoene and thiosulfinates — three powerful compounds that help the body prevent and fight bacterial, viral and even fungal infections. Add some fresh garlic to your sauces, soups or stir fry’s. Allicin is also produced when garlic cells are crushed, so using a garlic presser is the easiest way to squeeze the compound out of the clove. The vital nutrients in garlic are very unstable and degrade with time, so keep in mind that pre-chopped garlic in a jar contains less of the good stuff than freshly-crushed garlic.

Spice up your life with some Turmeric, one of the most powerful natural healers. Lipopolysacharide, which is a unique substance in turmeric, has shown the ability to heighten the activity and effectiveness of the immune system. It also contains powerful antioxidants, which can help enhance the body’s immune system and protect against illness and disease. Add Turmeric to curries, bolognaise and Indian dishes.

Eat as naturally as possible. Eating organic meat and dairy will limit your exposure to animals that were given steroids and antibiotics, both of which can interfere with immune function. Eating organic fruits and vegetables will limit your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals that can suppress your immune system. Avoid preservatives and additives (in most packaged foods). These unnatural compounds will disrupt the absorption and elimination of key nutrients. Check the labels of what you are eating!

So to avoid the sniffles and utilise your sick days for surfing or shopping instead, stock the fridge and cupboards with plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and build a strong immune system for you and your family.

Kasey Boorman (Nutritionist)

Make an appointment with Kasey here

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