You might have survived #bluemonday but have you been able to avoid the flu?? It’s the perfect time of year to catch an infection, cold or flu; not only has the weather turned cold and damp, but our bodies have been put through quite a test over the festive season. Let food is thy medicine in 2018! This post outlines some key foods that help boost your immune system - plus there’s two recipes!
(note: please don’t take this to replace medical advice. If you’re sick, consult a doctor)
Your Immune System
This system comprises of two branches - adaptive and innate immunity. Your innate immunity is that which fights against the broader infections in the body. It provides a generic but immediate response. Your adaptive immunity is much more specific and has a memory. As you grow and get exposed to certain pathogens, this system mount a tailored response that is stored in the cells’ memory for the future. Collectively there are various organs, cells and blood cells that have specific roles and functions depending on the type of threat they encounter.
It’s worth also mentioning autoimmunity. As a general definition, this is when the body starts to attack itself but this manifests in many different forms. There are hundreds of autoimmune conditions - celiac, crohns, hashimotos to name just three.
Foods That Help Boost your Immune System
When it comes to looking at foods that help boost your immune system, the focus is on the micronutrients. The food we eat is both a source of fuel and raw materials for the cells. Certain minerals, vitamins and minerals can help to support your immune function and in this way prevent or speed up recovery when you do catch something.
Ginger has a warming effect on the body and is both anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial. Therefore, it’s great for treating inflammatory disorders that are caused by infectious agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites,
Vitamin C is well known for its connection to immune health. It also helps to improve function in those who are stressed. Given that it’s a water soluble vitamin, it is advisable to get it in your diet daily as it’s quickly depleted. You can take 1000 mg of Vitamin C to fight off an oncoming cold and 4000 mg per day to get rid of a cold that is already in your system.
Oregano has some well known healing and immune boosting properties, specifically because of its antimicrobial properties.
Olive leaf extract has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. It is known to defend against the common cold and other respiratory infections.
Echinacea demonstrates immunomodulatory effects, namely stimulating your immunity to fight the infection.
Foods That Help Boost your Immune System - two juices to try!
Why is January a bad month to get sick?
Our immune system is like an army or a troop of firefighters, waiting to fight the bad guys and put out fires. Interestingly enough, 80% of your immune system actually resides around your gut. This is because the food you eat is external to the body so extra care has to be taken to ensure no pathogens/toxins/unwanted bad guys get through the gut wall and cause infection.
The problem is that your immune system can get tired and dampened. Take this analogy; Firefighters waste a lot of energy fighting fires and therefore need to rest afterwards back at the station. But if you suddenly start making them do chores like washing floors and cleaning instead of sleeping and relaxing, well the next time there’s a fire they aren’t going to perform at their best. It’s the same for the immune system - if you keep launching attacks and creating fires, your immunity might just run out of energy to fight back. In this case, maybe you just burned the candle at both ends over Christmas, indulging in alcohol and refined food and sacrificing sleep. All of this combined pushed you over the edge. If this sounds familiar, get plenty of sleep and try our recipes above to help give you a boost!
The other danger is that you’re already running at your limit and that actually taking a rest is what sets you over the edge and makes you sick. Once you give your immune system the chance to rest, it completely shuts down. This often happens when people who are very stressed go on holidays and get sick within the first day or so. This should be a warning sign that you have some work to do, not only on incorporating the recipes and foods from above, but also on managing your stress and workload.