Food is one of the most powerful tools we have to help prevent disease. A healthy body begins with a healthy immune system. It maintains homoeostasis by defending against viruses and bacteria, which can cause inflammation, illness and disease. Our bodies also produce antibodies that help destroy viruses and promote healing.
NUTRITION + YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM
The healthier our gastrointestinal tract is, the healthier we are. The gut plays an imperative role in immune function. It is our link to the external world and our first line of defence against any pathogens that may cause harm. It's a fact that the majority (about 70 - 80 per cent) of our immune system resides in the gut, ready to fight off any ingested nasties that don’t belong there. When I designed Natural Immune Support and wrote my book Perfect Digestive Health, I wanted to make sure I was addressing how tightly linked our immune and gut health was.
In Perfect Digestive Health, which is based on my personal journey towards optimum immune health and a healthier digestive system, I've detailed how a wholefood immune-boosting diet lays the foundations for a happier immune system. A strong immunity helps to support your internal network of organs and cells that work hard to protect you from viruses, bacteria and foreign substances. Nutritional deficiencies, however, can impair immune function, increasing both the risk and severity of an infection. For example, Vitamin C acts as your personal bodyguard, helping to protect cells and assist in healing. Studies show the use of vitamin C can reduce the duration and symptoms of colds.
Vitamin C, acts like your personal bodyguard, helping to protect cells and assist in healing. Studies show the use of vitamin C can reduce the duration and symptoms of colds.
I believe that food is most powerful when it is close to its original state and has the properties to heal and nourish. That is why I regularly make sure that I’m getting a daily dose of fresh vegetables, fruits, essential fats and quality protein so that my immune system stays strong. The addition of Immune Boosting Chicken Soup or a Super C Immune Boosting Smoothie in my diet during the winter months also makes me feel healthy and strong.
I also love making fresh vegetable juices scented with anti-inflammatory nutrients such as ginger and turmeric and my restorative Natural Immune Support.
MY TOP FOODS TO FIGHT COLDS + FLU
Lemons, oranges, grapefruit and limes are the complete package of immune-boosting nutrients. They are an excellent source of vitamin C which helps maintain the body’s defence against bacterial infections. Lemons, in particular, are wonderful for your digestive system and I'm always squeezing lemon juice into 2 big glasses of room temperature water every morning to help start the day. Additional Natural Immune Support or Cold-Pressed Wheatgrass adds an extra boost of Vitamin C, D and chlorophyll - particularly useful when I'm stressed and run down and need to recover quickly. I recommend making an Immune Boosting Smoothie with oranges, limes, turmeric, ginger and leafy greens that will make you feel wonderful straight after drinking it.
I recommend making an Immune Boosting Smoothie with oranges, limes, turmeric, ginger and leafy greens that will make you feel wonderful straight after drinking it.
Ginger is used as a potent detoxifying and antiviral herb that I have included in my Gingersnap Chai Tea, Natural Immune Support and Organic Green Smoothie as it helps the body get rid of toxins, stimulate circulation and boost your immune system. It is also regarded as a natural antibiotic for the body and helps to reduce congestion and mucus production.
Curcumin is the active ingredient in turmeric, responsible for its distinct yellow colouring and impressive list of health properties. Curcumin is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, detoxifying and amazing for digestive health. It's one of the hero ingredients in Natural Immune Support and is delicious mixed into smoothies or added to a restorative gut healing carrot juice.
Garlic is a wonderful antimicrobial and antifungal natural antibiotic, that detoxifies the body, maintains gut flora balance, boosts immune function, reduces LDL cholesterol, cleanses the liver, dispels intestinal parasites and makes a wonderful SIBO treatment. My Great Polish Aunt Ciocia's remedy for colds and flu was a whole bulb of raw garlic... yes bulb, which is about 10 - 15 cloves mixed with a little olive oil and between a slice of rye bread to help it go down. She would then boost it by a shot of vodka then sip on chamomile tea all day long and sweat it out. I must admit, I love her remedy minus the vodka and it's extremely effective in knocking out all the nasties.
Garlic is a wonderful antimicrobial and antifungal natural antibiotic that detoxifies the body, maintains gut flora balance, boosts immune function, reduces LDL cholesterol, cleanses the liver and dispels intestinal parasites and makes a wonderful SIBO treatment.
Probiotics are live microorganisms (good bacteria) that help you digest nutrients that boost the detoxification of your colon and support your immune system. Good sources of probiotics are fermented foods such as tempeh, kombucha, miso, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and yoghurt, as well as in powdered form from health food stores. Studies from the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport show that probiotic treatment on elite New Zealand rugby union players had beneficial effects of reducing duration and severity of infections.
When I designed Organic Green Smoothie, I made sure to include probiotics as well as Vitamin D in the formulation, to support and nourish my immune system naturally.
Studies from the Journal of Nutrition showed that cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, cauliflower and cabbage, contained distinctive compounds called glucosinolates that work as pre-biotics and promoted the growth of good healthy gut bacteria. I personally aim to include these vegetables into my diet most days - because eating them makes me feel wonderful but also on the recommendation of my gastroenterologist Professor Thomas Barody.
Studies show that manuka honey has the power to combat numererous species of bacteria, including antibiotic-resistant varieties. Manuka honey is antimicrobial and antiviral. It is also an antioxidant that can help to support a healthy immune system. Take a spoonful daily or add to a pot of lemon + ginger tea to help boost your immune health.
Good quality protein sources, such as organic grass-fed meats, wild caught fish, cultured yoghurt and kefir, Pure Native WPI protein, Organic Pea Protein and organic eggs, are essential for a strong immune system. Every process in the body requires protein, as it relies on having an adequate pool of amino acids available to function properly.
This is exactly what inspired me to design my own range of protein and functional foods - I wanted to create pure clean organic supplements that were kind to my digestive system were a key ingredient in my immune system recovery.
Research studies have shown that deficiency of high-quality protein can result in depletion of immune cells, the inability of the body to make antibodies, and other immune-related problems. In a nutshell, protein helps repair the body, assists in recovery from illness and sports injuries, prevents muscle wastage, keeps blood sugars stable, supports weight loss and a healthy metabolism. Choose nutrient-rich proteins with a complete amino acid profile. Check out my Protein Calculator for more info on how much you need every day.
As a general rule, by eating a rainbow of whole foods, such as fresh fruits and vegetables every day, and having enough protein to support your goals, you will be getting varying amounts of fibre, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that can all help to protect your body against colds and flu this season.