Grey January is in our midst and it’s cold! With so many nasty bugs floating around right now, here’s some more of my top foodie tips to help protect you from infections.
You might not necessarily put oysters at the top of the list when thinking about the immune system! However, oysters are really high in zinc which is our top immune-boosting mineral (zinc is also the reason oysters are known as aphrodisiacs – zinc encourages the production of testosterone)! There’s been lots of research around zinc and reducing the length and severity of a cold.
Oysters may be a little pricey but fresh is always best. However, you can still enjoy canned oysters for some of their amazing health benefits. Plus, you might have more fun in the bedroom too!
But it needs to be ‘live’! Again, you might not automatically think of live bio yoghurt as helping support the immune system but those live cultures have a really positive effect on the beneficial gut flora. Live cultures help to increase the number of good bacteria within the digestive system, which in turn helps to support the immune system; much of your immune system actually resides in the gut itself.
For the best health benefits, you need to be choosing live natural yoghurt, rather than fruit; sugar in all its forms destroys the good gut bacteria and the fruit varieties also contain either sugar or sweeteners – both ‘no no’s for the immune system. Don’t worry if that seems a little dull, you can add some amazing fresh or frozen blueberries and you’ve got a super bowl of super foods!
Specifically egg yolks! And the reason being that egg yolks are high in vitamin D. Vitamin D is such a powerful immune-boosting vitamin, in fact one of the best! Vitamin D is known as ‘the sunshine vitamin’ because it’s primarily made on the skin in the presence of sunshine. This is the reason why Public Health England is recommending that we all take a supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D daily all through the winter. However, it’s good to eat foods rich in vitamin D as well.
In fact, the best start to your day is to have an egg-based breakfast; it will keep you feeling fuller for longer, keep your blood sugar levels on an even keel, and your energy sustained throughout the day. Even better, if you’ve been out partying the night before, eggs contain sulphur which helps the liver to detoxify (also a positive benefit for the immune system).
Oyster mushrooms really help to boost the immune system because they encourage production of white blood cells. However, shitake mushrooms are also beneficial because they’re high in vitamin D. Just like us, they produce vitamin D on their skin when the sun shines.
The best advice is to buy a selection of mushrooms and then mix them all up when cooking as they all carry some benefit for the immune system, in different ways. Mushrooms are also high in selenium, a powerful antioxidant mineral, also great for the immune system.
Why not make some delicious mushroom soup this week?
During the colder months, the body functions much better with warming food but it also loves warming spices, such as ginger. In Chinese medicine, warming foods are known as ‘yang’ foods because they raise the body’s core temperature and improve the circulation. Not only does this help you to keep warm during the cold winter months, having a better body circulation means that all your cells and organs are being delivered essential nutrients. Plus, you’ll look healthier and your skin will glow. Ginger really warrants its title of ‘superfood’. Why? Because it’s a powerful antioxidant but it also helps to fight infections (amongst other things!) The active ingredient in ginger is gingerol which activates the production of the immune-boosting white blood cells.
There’s so many ways you can include ginger in your daily diet; in stir fries, grated fresh in tea, with some lime and chilli with fish or in a healthy juice.