With the current focus on a particular virus, it’s a good moment to consider whether we are offering our immune systems enough support. The strength of our immune system is dependent on our diets, environment and lifestyle, including our levels of stress. The bottom line is that pathogenic microbes can cause disease, but only if our immune system is compromised. Or another way of putting it is: To prevent disease, we have to create health.
We want a rainbow of fruit and vegetables in our diets daily. The minimum is 5 a day but better to aim for 7-10.
Here are a few of the real heroes of the immune system:
VITAMIN C This immune helper increases the production of infection fighting white blood cells and helps to prevent the entry of viruses. Vitamin C is lost in the cooking process, so eat raw or lightly cooked.
Naturally, lemons are high in vitamin C, but the peel also contains limonene, which activates the immune system. As well as citrus fruits, kiwi fruits, parsley, peppers, and watercress are also very high. And go for berries, especially dark coloured berries such as elderberries, which have antiviral and antibacterial effects against flu and common respiratory pathogens.
VITAMIN A Known as the anti-infection vitamin and a big player in the immune system. Beta-carotene is the plant form of vitamin A and is found in abundance in fruit and vegetables. Here’s a delicious soup recipe that contains selenium rich brazil nuts as well as beta-carotene rich root veg.
VITAMIN E helps to control viral infections and interacts with vitamin A & C. Think ACE! Sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, avocados, almonds, green leafy veg and sweet potatoes are all high on the Vitamin E list.
ZINC reduces the risk of the common cold and pneumonia and is involved in virtually every aspect of immunity. Find good levels in pumpkin seeds, pecan nuts, pine nuts, sesame seeds and green peas.
SELENIUM is an antioxidant and can help to reduce more severe effects of viral infections. The best and easiest source of selenium is brazil nuts. Eat 6 a day in two divided doses.
GARLIC This delicious bulb of goodness has great healing abilities: antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and anti-parasitic. It lowers the risk and reduces the symptoms of cold and flu. Get as much of it in to you as you can! Here’s a recipe with the trinity roots, ginger, garlic and onions.
GINGER is an antioxidant and bacteria killing, including the common cold! Add it to sir fries and stews or slice it into your fresh lemon water for a great way to start the day.
TURMERIC balances the immune system. Don’t forget the black pepper to enhance its efficacy.
BROCCOLI SPROUTS Few things contain more immune boosting antioxidants than broccoli sprouts. Add to salads or just sprinkle on your meal.
Great immune supporting teas are liquorice, nettle, green tea, elderberry and our very own yogi tea.
A very important part of our immune system is the lymphatic system, which is continuously taking waste products and debris from the tissues to be eliminated from the body. The lymph nodes also contain white blood cells called macrophages (I like to visualise them as my very own Pac man army locating and eating up pathogens!).
The lymphatic system relies on muscle activity and exercise to activate it. There is nothing more that the lymphatic system likes more than a jolly good shake and this kriya is a cracker! Thymus and Immunity set.
YOGIC NUTRITION is a regular feature written by Anna Ranprem Kaur, a Kundalini Yoga teacher with more than nine years of experience, now also in her final year of a diploma in Nutrition Therapy and Naturopathy. In this monthly blog, Anna will share knowledge and explorations as she moves forward on her journey in nutrition. www.annakundaliniyoga.co.uk