09 Feb The immunity booster foods you should eat more of
We’re constantly being told what not to eat, but which immunity booster foods should we be eating more of to help our immune system?
Here are 10 of our favourite immunity booster superfoods to help keep you healthy this winter.
What are immunity booster foods?
Foods that help boost your immunity are essentially nutrient-rich foods which are particularly beneficial for our health and are often referred to as ‘superfoods’.
Why eat superfoods?
Eating the right type of foods is one of the key ways to help to keep your immune system strong. If your diet is brimming with superfoods, your body’s natural defences work better and you’re less likely to become poorly with colds or flu-like illnesses. And if you are unlucky enough to catch one, a strong immune system will help ensure that you’ll shake it off quickly
Variety is key
No single food – even a superfood – can offer all the nutrients needed to nourish our bodies, so a balanced diet is key to strengthen your immunity.
Your diet should include four main food groups: fruit and vegetables; protein; carbohydrates; and dairy (and plant-based alternatives). The Eatwell Guide provides a handy visual to refer to.
Nutritional Therapist, Vee O’Brien has written a guest post for us discussing the main nutrients which are essential to boosting your immune system.
As well as tasting great, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are high in fibre and antioxidants.
A diet rich in immune-boosting berries may lower your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
These sweet-tasting superfoods have even been credited with helping to prevent cancer, thanks to antioxidants which protect our body’s cells against damaging free radicals.
Dark, leafy greens
Leafy greens like kale and spinach, are loaded with nutrients. Among these are phytochemicals – compounds which have the potential to reduce inflammation, regulate hormones and act as the body’s immunity booster.
Alongside phytochemicals, dark, leafy greens get their immune-boosting power thanks to high amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C and calcium.
From walnuts to hazelnuts, almonds to pecans, nuts are a tasty source of plant-based protein. They’re also high in monounsaturated fats.
Eating nuts will give your body what it needs to help repair damaged cells and even reduce your chance of developing heart disease.
For four years in a row, the Mediterranean diet has been crowned the world’s healthiest.
It’s thought that one of the key factors that make this type of diet so healthy is olive oil, which features heavily in Mediterranean cooking. It is high in vitamin E, polyphenols and is full of monounsaturated fatty acids – ‘good fats’ which helps reduce cholesterol.
On the BBC programme, ‘Trust me I’m a Doctor’, an experiment conducted at the University of Glasgow gave 70 volunteers 20ml or raw olive oil a day for 6 weeks. After just 3 weeks, their heart disease ‘score’ had dropped significantly, there was no difference between those who took extra virgin or standard olive oil.
If you’re concerned about heart disease, you should make sure your diet includes a good slug of olive oil every day. Drizzle it on salads, use it for cooking or enjoy foods like hummus in which olive oil is a main ingredient.
It is important to use the oil uncooked as the polyphenols and some free fatty acids break down when they are heated.
As well as being a fabulous source of calcium and protein, live yoghurt is jam-packed with live cultures called probiotics. Often referred to as ‘good bacteria’, probiotics protect our bodies from harmful bacteria.
Yoghurt has made it onto our superfoods list because its probiotic properties mean it can benefit our skin, heart, digestive systems and even our mental health.
Whole grains like oats, brown rice and quinoa are also known to be immune-boosting superfoods. They’re high in fibre, B vitamins and phytonutrients.
Adding more whole grains into your life is pretty simple – for example, you could switch white pasta for whole grain pasta or add grains such as buckwheat or quinoa to salads and stews.
We know it’s not technically a food but we couldn’t forget about green tea which contains catechins, a type of antioxidant which has been shown to prevent viruses.
If you’re trying to get through winter without catching a cold or flu, green tea is one of the key immunity boosters you’ll want to have handy in your kitchen cupboard.
Raw fruit and veg
Our bodies require vitamin C to support all sorts of essential functions including iron absorption, building bone structure and maintaining skin health. Crucially, it also plays a key role in keeping our immune systems working effectively.
Vitamin C is a popular choice for those who want to reduce the risk of catching a cold. If you are unlucky enough to catch one, ensuring that you get your recommended daily dose of vitamin C could reduce the length of time you suffer from symptoms by 8%.
The best way to get vitamin C naturally is from fruit such as blackcurrants and kiwis and raw vegetables such as red or green peppers and broccoli. If you’re not a fan, try drinking orange or grapefruit juice, or you may choose to take a supplement.
Love them or loathe them, mushrooms are one of the best superfoods to help fight off colds and other viruses. This is because they’re brimming with selenium and B vitamins which keep the immune system in tiptop form.
Acai is a dark purple fruit native to South America. You might have seen photos of beautifully presented acai bowls on Instagram. You need to soak the dried berries before you eat them and people describe the taste as a cross between blackberries and very dark chocolate.
Acai berries have made our superfood list because they contain potent antioxidants called flavonoids which help your body deal with everyday toxins. If you want to give your immune system a nudge in the right direction, acai berries are ideal.
A bit like our beloved green tea, echinacea isn’t exactly a food, but if you’re committed to keeping your immune system healthy, it’s one of the best natural herbal remedies to choose. Echinacea has immuno-stimulatory and anti-inflammatory properties and is particularly popular for reducing the severity of cold symptoms.
If you really want to give your immunity a boost this winter, just two tablets of HRI Coldcare a day contain echinacea plus your recommended daily amount of vitamin C and Zinc, a trace element associated with supporting immunity.
Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, HRI Coldcare contains extract of echinacea root, a multipurpose herbal remedy which grows in the mountains of North America).
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