Superfoods for super immunitySince about 75% of your immune cells are located in your gut, this is the place you want to nourish by knowing what you put in your mouth. For a healthy immune system you want to:
- Eat Real Foods. Real Foods equal health. Invest in meals made from real foods and not factory packed food like substances. For example real plant foods, apart from being a source of nutrients (protein, carbs, fats, vitamins, minerals and water), are complex packages of biologically active compounds, a so called phytochemicals or phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are bioactive compounds primarily important for the growth and survival of the plant but they also support you, they are indispensable for the optimal function of your immune system. Think of herbs such as oregano or thyme and their powerful anti-microbial properties. Human beings rely on these plants for health and survival as these plant foods contain thousands of intricate cells and biochemicals working in harmony and living in synergy with us – with humans and other animals. Moreover, antioxidants (majority is of plant origin) such as vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients support your body to rid off “free radicals”. If you have real foods on your plate, foods laden with phytonutrients and antioxidants, your immune system will be positively triggered. A white bread sandwich with margarine and commercial cheese will not provide you with this sort phytonutrients but a salad with leafy greens, tomatoes, and a dressing of olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, fresh basil, sea salt and pepper will do. Realize that no supplements can replace these phytonutrients. Eating real foods, eating colors, eating diversity of foods, and using herbs should be your priority for a healthy immune system.
- Eat Cruciferous vegetables. They contain protective micronutrients and phytonutrients that are anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-cancerogenic and immune boosting. Include broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, radish, watercress, cauliflower, or bok choy in your daily menu if you want to boost your immune system. If you want to get the most benefit from eating these vegetables, chew them very well, do not overcook them so they are not too mushy, you can also chop, blend or puree them in soups and stews.
- Eat Mushrooms. Mushrooms are super foods for your immunity, they are rich in glyconutrients such as mannose, galactose, fucose, or N-acetylglucosamine and other phytonutrients with immune-modulatory and disease-fighting properties. Nutrients from mushrooms immobilize your immune system and help against pathogens such as viruses and bacteria, in addition being also powerful anti-cancer agents. There is a variety of mushrooms to choose from such as shiitake, Portobello, oyster, reishi, maitake, or chanterelle.
- Eat Onions and Garlic. Onions, garlic, chives, scallions and other allium family of vegetables add more than just flavor to your dishes. They provide anti-oxidants, they are anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer. For a reason, the past generations have been using garlic and onions to fight a cold, flu or cough; if you eat them on regular basis you reduce the risk of getting sick. Their powerful compounds such as organosulfur compounds, glyconutrients and prebiotic fiber make them shiny stars in terms of immune boosting properties. Best eaten raw.
- Eat superhero fruits such as Berries and Pomegranates. Their colors speak for themselves. They are laden with phytonutrients that promote your health on various levels, starting from their anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Indulge yourself with these nutrient dense fruit bombs for optimal healthy.
- Eat seeds for their amazing package of nutrients. Under right conditions, seeds can initiate a new life because they are packed with essential nutrients. For example, they are a good source of vitamin E (sesame seeds, sunflower seeds) and omega-3 fatty acids (flax seeds, chia seeds). You can get some minerals and nutrients from seeds as well. Seeds are a great addition to salads or can be eaten as a snack.
- Eat 3 x P = prebiotic rich foods, probiotic rich foods and polyphenol rich foods to boost your beneficial gut bacteria. Probiotic rich foods include fermented foods such as pickles, sauerkraut, kombucha, kimchi or kefir. Prebiotic rich foods serve as food for beneficial bacteria, food = dietary fiber = complex carbohydrates. By eating vegetables, fruits (skin especially), or seeds you get the fiber to feed your beneficial gut microbes. Polyphenols (flavonoids, tannins and more) are plant phytonutrients that to become active undergo diverse intestinal transformations thanks to the action of your digestive enzymes and gut microbial metabolism. By eating polyphenol rich foods (onions, apples, grapefruit, plums, broccoli, citrus fruits, tomatoes, green tea, cocoa, banana, berries, chickpeas, beans, soy, parsley, thyme, celery, walnuts, grapes, flaxseed, apricots, peaches) you not only benefit from their anti-inflammatory properties but you also promote the growth of your beneficial gut microbes.
“Fundamentally, the best immune boosting strategy comes from eating real foods, having adequate sleep, being physically active and managing stress”