Some foods have been a staple in medicinal treatment for thousands of years. Nowadays, many are still used to combat various illnesses, from head colds to cancer.
Our senior naturopath, Shannon McNeill, shares her knowledge on how specific foods improve our immune system and the best ways to introduce them into your diet.
Food and our immune system
The body's defence system is only as dependable as the support it gets. Some people are just blessed with a good set of genes that ensure a strong immune system. For others who are not so lucky, they must observe proper nutrition, sufficient rest, a healthy and active lifestyle, get plenty of sun and reduce their stress levels.
Recent studies have shown that sticking to a healthy routine, as mentioned, whilst also cutting down on unhealthy habits and processed foods help to restore the immune system to peak performance.
Best foods to increase the immune system
Certain foods that boost the body's immune system can significantly benefit those who wish to be more conscious of what they take in.
Here are four of the best foods for boosting the immune system.
This vegetable has had a long history of medicinal value. It boasts anti-microbial, anti-bacterial and antineoplastic properties.
Use it as a spice in meals like pasta dishes, soups and stir-fries or our prawn and pumpkin bobo with kale rice.
Ginger has shown to reduce inflammation and relieve head cold symptoms. Combine it with lemon juice and 1/2 tsp honey and drink regularly to fight infection.
As a stimulant for the heart and circulation, use at the onset of a cold or flu. Fresh ginger tea will help sweat out infection and reduce fever. It’s also good for travel sickness, nausea and gastric upset, including diarrhea, gripping pain and stomach spasms.
Turmeric is packed with properties to arrest cancer growth and is growing in reputation for its regeneration and healing of muscle and anti-inflammatory effects. Studies have shown that as turmeric (or its active compound, curcumin) rapidly reduces inflammation post-exercise, it can help to improve recovery and exercise performance in athletes.
Add the powdered turmeric to your curries or cooking. With the root of turmeric (known as a rhizome), slice it up and add to salads or a plunger along with ginger and drink daily as a tea.
Ganoderma is a bitter mushroom also known as Reishi. It has long been a popular ingredient in Chinese Medicine attributed to assisting in longevity and overall health.
Further studies on this oriental mushroom reveal that it strengthens immunity and combats cancer. Moreover, it has antioxidant properties and provides relief from urinary tract infections.
Though Ganoderma is often consumed as a supplement, you can also brew it into tea or coffee or use the powder in cooking.
For more naturopath advice from Shannon, also read her tips for healthy brain and body function.