The best way to protect your family against viruses and bacteria is a healthy diet – and it doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg. By adding a few simple ingredients to your family’s meals, you can give their immune system a healthy boost.
Here are a few food types you can add to meals to improve your family’s health:
Many people turn to vitamin C after they caught a cold, or if they think they’re on the verge of catching one. This is because citrus helps to build your immune system. vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells and improve the health of tissues, which are key to fighting infections. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, and with such a variety to choose from, it is easy to add a squeeze of this vitamin to any meal.
Popular citrus fruits include:
Because your body doesn’t produce or store vitamin C, you need to actively ensure that you get your daily dosage for continued health. The recommended daily amount for most adults is:
- 75 mg for women
- 90 mg for men
Kiwis are naturally full of multiple essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts the white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwis’ other nutrients assist with general body functions.
Red bell peppers
Red bell peppers contain almost 3 times more vitamin C (127mg) than most other fruit per gram. They are also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, Vitamin C may help you maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A, helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Broccoli is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as fibre and many other antioxidants, it’s one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to your plate.
Early civilizations recognised garlic’s value in fighting infections. Garlic may also contribute to slowing down atherosclerosis, hardening of the arteries, and some evidence suggests that it can assist in lowering blood pressure – this should however not replace any prescribed medications for hypertension. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. Ginger may help decrease inflammation, which can help reduce a sore throat and inflammatory illnesses.
Spinach is not only rich in Vitamin C, it’s also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, both of which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems.
Almonds contain a high amount of vitamin E. This powerful antioxidant is key to a healthy immune system. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are fully packed with vitamin E and contain healthy fats. Adults only need about 15mg of vitamin E each day. A half-cup serving of almonds, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides close to 100 percent of the recommended daily amount.
This bright yellow, bitter spice has also been used for years as an anti-inflammatory in treating both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. High concentrations of curcumin can help decrease exercise-induced muscle damage and is an immune booster and an antiviral spice.
Green tea is packed with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant. Green tea contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), a powerful antioxidant, which has shown to enhance immune function. Green tea is also a good source of the amino acid L-theanine. L-theanine may aid in the production of germ-fighting compounds in your T cells, an essential part of your defence system.
Liquorice contains many beneficial substances, including glycyrrhizin, which may help protect against viral infections. It contains B vitamins, including B12 and B6 – which are all important for a healthy immune response. Many adults are deficient in these B vitamins, which may negatively affect immune health.
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More about the expert:
Amir Laufert holds a BSc (Hons) Nutritional Science degree from Middlesex University, England. Nutritional Science is the study of the effects of food components on the metabolism, health, performance, and disease resistance of humans. It also includes the study of human behaviours related to food choices. His journey began at a young age. At 15 years old, he found himself in a hospital close to kidney failure. This was due to misguided nutritional advice from an “expert”. “They say that we live, and we learn, so I guess I took that message to heart! The day I left the hospital I made a promise to myself that I would dedicate my time to the learnings of nutrition and help prevent others from going through my past experience. Since that day, I have been on an educational journey of nutrition.”
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