How can I boost my immune system? How can I help my body during the cold season? These are recurrent questions that may pop into your head as soon as the weather start changes and seasonal colds start to spread around. The most important thing that I’d like you to focus on even before reading about these simple ways to boost your immune system is that you should take good care of your immune system all year long! This means following a healthy lifestyle on a daily basis and help your body to stay strong and healthy from a general point of view.
It’s funny how many people as soon as they get the flu, they start buying oranges and taking vitamin C supplements, but until the day before they were barely buying fresh fruit and vegetables… Start thinking about your health and well-being in terms of PREVENTION – do your best every day to stay healthy with simple little steps!
Here there are 5 simple tips related to the immune system that will help you to get a much clear idea of the choices that you can take every day.
1) IMPROVE YOUR GUT HEALTH
The immune system and gut are strongly linked and approx. 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. What you aim for is a healthy gut that will help your body to deal with pathogens (that can cause illness) – both for prevention and to have a faster recovery when you get sick. Treat well you gut with PRObiotics and PREbiotics: the first ones are “good” bacteria that live in your gut and the second ones are the food for probiotics.
Probiotics rich foods are for example yogurt (look for one without added sugar or other ingredients that should not be there, and preferably organic), kefir, kimchi, kvass, sauerkraut, tempeh, miso, sourdough bread.
Prebiotics are found in small amounts in several foods, but good sources of them are for example garlic/onions (and the other foods in the same family), Jerusalem artichokes, and chicory.
2) GET YOUR ZINC
Zinc is a mineral strongly related to the immune system (through white blood cells). You can find it for example in pumpkin seeds, nuts, chia seeds, shellfish, dark chocolate, cocoa powder, pulses, sesame seeds, dried mushrooms, flaxseeds, wheat germ.
3) GET YOUR VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that can help you to support your immune system. It also helps you with its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. You can find it for example in lemons, grapefruit, oranges, mandarin, peppers, dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, papaya, berries, pineapple, mango, kiwi, apples, Brussels sprouts.
Vitamin C will also help you in taking good care of your skin – your first defence against infections.
4) KEEP IRON IN MIND
It’s important to maintain optimal iron levels in our blood not just from a general point of view, but also to strengthen our immune system. So don’t forget about iron-rich foods such as for example meat, fish, dark leafy vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, cacao powder, whole grains, dried apricots, sundried tomatoes, broccoli.
5) DE-STRESS DAILY
Chronic stress can weaken our immune system and makes easier to get any bug around. Find an effective way that works for you to de-stress on a daily basis and go for it! Make it part of your everyday life – no matter how your schedule looks like!
SOME INTERESTING READINGS ABOUT THIS TOPIC:
about vitamins and trace minerals:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17726308 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17922955
about probiotics and gut microbiota:
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25481240 and https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24891972
NOW LET’S GET MORE PRACTICAL WITH A COUPLE OF QUICK RECIPES:
Broccoli with mustard sauce and seeds
2 small heads of broccoli (save the remaining stalks to make a veggie broth)
2 tsp mustard
1 tbsp tahini
juice of 1 lemon
1 handful of pumpkin seeds
For this salad, you can use the broccoli raw or cooked for a few minutes in a pan with a small amount of olive oil (chop them into small pieces). Prepare the sauce with mustard, tahini, lemon juice, and 1-2 tsp of water to help you to get a nice consistency. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a pan. Prepare a layer of broccoli in a plate and spread all over the sauce and seeds – otherwise, you can serve the broccoli in a bowl, dip them into the sauce and eat the pumpkin seeds as a side for extra crunchiness.
Spiced hot chocolate
120 ml cashew drink
3 tsp unsweetened cacao powder
1 piece of dark chocolate 80-85% (1 little square)
1/3 tsp cinnamon powder
1/3 tsp ginger powder
a pinch of cayenne pepper
Mix everything well in a small pot – leave on a medium heat for approx. 10 minutes, add the dark chocolate at the end and mix until it’s completely melted. Remove the cloves before serving.