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Cold days – hot nights!

Immune Boosting Oysters

Immune-boosting foods to keep the bugs away and your libido high!

With the temperature dropping dramatically and the onset of the traditional cold and flu season, now is the time to really ramp up your immune system, so that you don’t succumb to any nasty infections. 

Here’s my five top foods for the immune system (and they may surprise you!)

Oysters

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)!  Zinc is also needed for fertility, hence it’s great for keeping your libido in good shape!

There’s been lots of research around zinc and reducing the length and severity of a cold.  So even if you think oysters are a little pricey, with the celebratory season approaching, there’s plenty of excuse to treat your friends and family.  Fresh is always best but you can still enjoy canned oysters for some of their amazing health benefits.

Yoghurt

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 ones.   Sugar in all its forms destroys the good gut bacteria and 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 blueberries and you’ve got a super bowl of super foods!

Eggs

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 actually 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 during the winter months. However,  eating foods rich in vitamin D is also recommended.

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

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 are 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, great for the immune system.

So, get those stir fries going, eat mushrooms raw in salads, make delicious soup, or add them to a pie with steak!  Delicious!

Ginger

As we come into 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 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 immune-boosting white blood cells.

There’s so many ways you can include ginger in your daily diet; in stir fries, grated fresh as a tea, with some lime and chilli with fish or in a healthy juice.

So, say ‘goodbye’ to bugs and ‘hello’ to steamy nights!

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