TOP 5 FOODS FOR WINTER IMMUNITY:
The mercury is dropping rapidly and we are yet again bracing for the winter weather. Along with the chilly weather comes the increased risk of colds and flu, however we can do a lot to reduce our risk of infection with diet and lifestyle. During winter there are some foods that can actually support healthy immune function.
1. Garlic –This pungent herb has documented medicinal use dating back to Ancient Egypt. Hippocrates even recommended garlic for the treatment of infections, infestations and respiratory disorders as well as indigestion. Garlic contains organosulphur compounds and numerous clinical trials have demonstrated the activity of garlic and its compounds on the immune system. Garlic stimulates the release of a variety of immune factors, proliferation of lymphocytes and the activity of natural killer cells. Clinical trials have found benefits in using garlic in viral infections, prevention of childhood respiratory infections and fungal infections. Why not add some garlic to your soups, casseroles or even minced into salad dressings.
2. Brazil Nuts - These tasty treats are one of the richest sources of Selenium. Australian soils are considered to be low in this vital mineral. Deficiency of Selenium is associated with impaired immune system function and supplementation stimulates the immune response. Selenium deficiency also increases susceptibility to viral infections. Just a few Brazil nuts each day can provide 150-300 mcg of Selenium. Keep them in the fridge to keep them fresh and enjoy as a snack.
3. Mushrooms – These edible fungi are definitely superfoods for immune health. Shiitake, Reishi, Maitake, Enoki, Oyster, Silver Ear and Champignons all support healthy immune function. Some of these mushrooms have been found to stimulate and activate a variety of immune cells including natural killer cells, lymphocytes, neutrophils and macrophages. They have also shown the ability to inhibit the growth of some pathogens. Mushrooms also make a great alternative to meat for those who either choose not to eat it or want to reduce their meat intake.
4. Kale – One of the richest sources of Betacarotene and a higher source of vitamin C than citrus! Betacarotene is converted to vitamin A in the body and helps to maintain healthy eye and immune function. Vitamin C is also a potent antioxidant. As many nutrients can be damaged by heating, Kale is best added to a juice or lightly steamed just before serving.
5. Sesame and Pumpkin Seeds – Although oysters are probably the best known and richest food source of Zinc, not too many people want to be eating a plate of cold oysters during the winter months! Great vegetarian sources of Zinc include seeds, particularly sesame and pumpkin seeds. Zinc deficiency is associated with poor immune function and increased risk of infections. Zinc is vital for the proper development and function of immune cells . Zinc supplementation has been shown to increase circulating lymphocytes, and reduce the risk of infection. Sesame and pumpkin seeds make a delicious addition sprinkled over steamed vegetables or a salad.