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The ingredients you can add to meals to boost your immune system

July 9, 2021

The pandemic has highlighted why keeping your immune system healthy is important. Responsible for protecting you from disease, a healthy immune system can keep you from falling ill and get over illnesses quicker.

The key to a healthy immune system is ensuring your body gets the nutrients it needs and creating an environment where you feel at your best. That means eating a well-balanced diet, staying hydrated, exercising, and minimising stress. However, some foods could help boost your immune system and are easy to incorporate into your usual diet.

1. Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits not only taste delicious but almost all of them are high in vitamin C, which helps to build your immune system. From oranges to limes, there are a variety of ways to use citrus fruits when eating. Adding citrus juice to fresh salads and other meals can add some zing to your plate or simply snack on an orange to boost your vitamin C every day.

2. Broccoli

Broccoli is a great vegetable to add to your plate if you’re focusing on your health. It can boost your vitamin A, C and E intake, all of which can help your body function, as well as other antioxidants. With so many ways to cook broccoli, you can add it to a variety of meals, but research suggests that steaming the vegetable is the best way to prepare it to keep as many nutrients as possible.

3. Garlic

Garlic is a staple ingredient that’s used in numerous cuisines, making it simple to incorporate into your meals. It’s often claimed that garlic can help fight colds and flu thanks to its concentration of allicin. While further research is needed to measure this claim, it could help support your immune system.

4. Blueberries

Blueberries are rich in an antioxidant called “flavonoids”, which some researchers suggest can help improve immune systems and play an essential role in the defence system of the respiratory tract. Blueberries are a great snacking option or for adding a handful to your breakfast; they go great with oats, yoghurt, and cereal. For an easy way to add blueberries, try freezing them so you always have fresh berries on hand to add to your meals or make a smoothie.

5. Turmeric

Turmeric is a yellow spice that’s widely used to add some flavour to curries. While more research is needed to fully assess the health benefits of the spice, some research indicates that it can act as an anti-inflammatory. It’s an ingredient that’s been used in alternative medicine for centuries. Aside from curries, turmeric can be used to add flavour to a variety of meals, including roasted vegetables and salad dressing.

6. Button mushroom

Vitamin D can be hard to boost through your diet. In fact, the NHS states that between October and March, everyone should consider taking a daily supplement because the sun is not strong enough for the body to make vitamin D. Mushrooms are one of the few food sources, including oily fish, red meat, and egg yolks, that contain vitamin D, which is important for regulating the immune system and keeping bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.

7. Acai berries

Acai berries are known as a superfood thanks to their high antioxidant content and potential health benefits. A few acai berries to snack on during the day could help strengthen your immune system and they taste great; the flavour is often described as a mix between berries and chocolate.

8. Spinach

Spinach is packed full of nutrients and vitamins C and E, which help to support the immune system. It also contains antioxidants, which could help improve your ability to fight infections. It’s a versatile food that is easy to add to your usual meals. It makes a great base for creating a healthy salad or you can add a handful when cooking dishes like curry to give your dinner extra flavour and an immune boost.

9. Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds might be small, but they pack a punch when it comes to vitamin E, which is important for maintaining a healthy immune system. Again, sunflower seeds are an easy option if you want to be able to add an immune-boosting food to your existing meals and are a great way to add some crunch to oats or a salad. Keep in mind though, that sunflower seeds are high in fat so be careful not to overindulge.

10. Dark chocolate

Improving your health doesn’t have to mean giving up all treats. In fact, a small portion of dark chocolate could provide an immune system boost too. Chocolate contains antioxidants that can reduce inflammation and research has linked it to a range of benefits. The darker the chocolate, the greater the health benefits. However, it’s still important to indulge in chocolate in moderation, even if it is delivering health benefits.

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