December 05 2014 – Graedon Parker
We all know what this time of year is like – a little too much to eat, a little too much to drink and a little too short on sleep. But hey, it’s the festive season right, and life is all about enjoying yourself and the company of those around you! That being said though, it’s always a brilliant idea to start the new year with your best foot forward health-wise. So, here are ten tasty foods that will kick start your immune system for a New You in the New Year.
- Elderberry – Favoured by natural health practitioners, the elderberry (or Sambucus nigra) plant is an all round winner in the immune department. While all parts of the plants can be used, the berries are particularly rich in flavonoids and anthocyanins – and the flowers are an immune stimulant, promoting sweating, and act as an expectorant – all of which aid the immune system in defending against and cleansing the body of toxins. The sweet taste is also palatable to children, & can be taken as a syrup, tincture or tea.
- Cruciferous vegetables – Kale, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage are all excellent immunity-supporting vegetables, promoting overall health by nourishing and boosting the livers ability to flush toxins from the body.
- Sweet potato – This household favourite is filled to the brim with vitamin A – a nutrient essential to skin health. And we all know that skin, our largest organ, is our very first line of defence, acting as a protective barrier. Switch things up & mash your sweet potato for a sweet take on an old favourite.
- Sunflower & pumpkin seeds – Packed full of zinc, seeds such as sunflower and pumpkin are useful for boosting immunity. A biologically essential metal, zinc is a crucial co-factor for over 300 proteins & enzymes, used in the body’s defence against stress. Particularly beneficial for skin and wound healing, zinc also possesses anti-viral capabilities and improves cellular immunity. These seeds pack a punch, and are super simple to incorporate into your daily feed, either as a straight up snack or tossed over salad or cereal.
- Garlic – a timeless home remedy, garlic works absolute wonders for boosting the immune system. Rich in bioflavonoids, garlic is an important immune stimulant, possessing anti-viral, anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Any excuse for Italian, right?
- Oats & Barley - Both grains are rich in beta-gluten, a type of fiber with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory capabilities. Totally nourishing, and totally tasty – what more could we ask for really?
- Seaweed – Sea vegetables such as kelp and wakame are naturally rich sources of magnesium. Aiding in the absorption of vitamins B1, B6, C and D, magnesium is essential in the regulation of calcium. Also found in almonds, cashews, cacao, wholegrain cereals and leafy greens, kelp is an interesting addition to any diet – think brown rice sushi, organic miso soup or adding shredded kelp to a fresh leafy green salad.
- Turmeric – Curcumin, the main active ingredient in turmeric is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory food, with an ever-growing number of immune boosting and over health benefits. There’s never been a better reason to indulge in a super nourishing coconut cream veggie curry!
- Chili – Containing approximately seven times the vitamin C of citrus, chili lays claim to an incredible list of immune boosting benefits, some of which include; warding off cold and flu and cutting through sinus congestion, helping with digestion and aiding with muscle, joint and migraine-related pain. Loaded with vitamins A, C & E, folic acid, potassium and beta-carotene, chili is one of Mother Nature’s true multivitamins. If a little heat isn’t quite your thing, try a green variety & remove the seeds before adding to dishes.
- Pineapple - Loaded with essential B group vitamins, adding fresh pineapple to your daily diet is a surefire way of keeping your nervous system functioning at the optimal level & supporting immunity. An abundant source of bromelain, pineapple provides the immune boosting vitamins C and E, magnesium and also has anti-inflammatory properties.