Eat your way to good health! The team at Real Foods share their recommendations for the best foods to boost your immunity and well-being for the time ahead.
Being stuck indoors for most of the day can have an impact on our health. It’s normal to be tempted to adopt unhealthy routines during this time of uncertainty.
You already know it’s important to exercise moderately, and that fresh air does wonders for our health. Keeping a regular sleep routine is also important to keep your immune system top-notch.
And yes, while some us may be rushing to replace daily commutes with positive psychology, embracing gratitude meditations and growing plants in our homes doesn’t come naturally to all of us.
While the world consistently applauds the pandemic heroes, the feeling that you’re merely surviving rather than thriving can feel inconsequential. Yet it’s not. You’re not alone.
Well-being is more than just a mindset. We can enhance our well-being at a fundamental, primal level. Think Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.
The Buddha wrote that, ‘To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.’
As we start to re-enter the outside world again, you’re going to need a strong immune system.
The immune system functions differently for everyone. You might be the person who gets every mild cough and cold that goes around, or the person who never falls ill, but when you do experience severe symptoms. Regardless, the path to good immunity is the same.
Unsurprisingly, a vital factor to a healthy immune system is good nutrition.
Food can be your own individual superhero for fighting viruses – including covid-19 – and can actually help you to reduce the symptoms and severity if you do get an infection.
Nourishing our body through the foods we eat can have a positive impact on both our physical and mental health.
As Hippocrates wrote in his text De Alimento, “In food excellent medicine can be found, in food bad medicine can be found; good and bad are relative.”
While during anxious times it is enticing to reach for sugary, highly processed and unhealthy fatty foods as a source of instantaneous comfort. Unfortunately we know the long-lasting effects can be less than positive. Energy levels and mood always seem to come crashing down later, don’t they?
We’re not saying ban chocolate from the house – in fact we actively encourage a regular nibble on some good quality – ideally dark – chocolate so that you can benefit from the proven anti-depressant neurotransmitter, serotonin.
The last thing any of us really need right now is the stress of trying to adopt new eating habits. So don’t. Instead, slowly but surely try to add more immune-boosting foods into your daily diet. This approach will help you to feel a little bit better, both in the mind and body.
As you find yourself eating more of the good stuff, you’ll have less room in your stomach for the bad. In time, your brain won’t crave the junk food so much.
Mix up Mealtime
With summer coming, you won’t feel the need to eat heavy hot meals all the time, and that is great for our vitamin intake, as vitamins can get lost when cooked.
Avoid cooking the same meal again and again, but try to diversify your dishes with a mixture of the following ingredients so that you get a balanced amount of the vitamins and minerals you need.
Variety is the key to both boosting your immunity and your wellbeing.
Foods that boost your immunity are those that are high in nutrients – and the best way to ensure you are having them is to eat foods of every colour.
Yes, that’s how you eat the rainbow! This will ensure you’re ingesting crucial vitamins, as well as folic acid, iron, selenium and zinc.
An Apple a Day
Pack your diet with vitamin C, as this boosts your white blood cells that in turn fight infection. While citrus fruits are the first thing to come to mind, you don’t need to rely on a glass of morning orange juice to get vitamin C.
The British vegetable season in summer makes it easy, as you eat meals laden with fresh sweet bell peppers, peas, broccoli and tomatoes. The secret to vitamin C is to replenish your supply daily, as it doesn’t get stored in the body.
Snack for Immunity
A handful of pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds, or almonds is great snack to stave off hunger, but can also support your immune system with the high zinc content. Nuts and seeds are also a great source of the antioxidant vitamin.
Stay at Home Superfoods
Spinach is a powerhouse, brimming with essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, folate, zinc, magnesium, iron, fibre, vitamin A and beta carotene. A little light cooking will help you absorb them better.
(Let’s get #stayathomesuperfoods trending!)
You probably already know about the antiviral and anti-inflammatory power of elderberry, as highlighted in our Real Foods Winter Wellness feature.
Summertime is the perfect time to enjoy the many fresh berries that start ripening from June onwards and all the way through to early October if you are lucky. Strawberries, blackberries, gooseberries, blackcurrants, raspberries and blueberries are brimming with micronutrients like the antioxidants, polyphenols.
Blueberries are filled with flavonoids, another type of antioxidant. Scientists in New Zealand found that a flavonoid-rich diet means you’re 33 percent less likely to catch upper respiratory tract infections, such as a cold or cough, and that they will boost your immune system.
With all this recent time spent indoors and away from the sun’s crucial dosage of vitamin D, we need vitamin D more than ever. The delicious earthy flavour of mushroom is our saviour, with its high vitamin D content, as well B vitamins, amino acids, and the mineral selenium, which helps fight diseases.
Medicinally used for hundreds of years there is more to garlic than simple legend. Garlic is a proven ingredient for curing and even preventing colds and flus. It contains compounds that support immune function and is anti-viral and antioxidant to anti-inflammatory. The benefits of garlic are enhanced when eaten raw, or when added at the last moment to your cooking.
Turmeric, either in powdered spice or root form, is incredible for its immune-boosting function due to the high concentrations of the active polyphenol, curcumin. Studies confirm that curcumin has antioxidant and anti-viral effects, and is also an anti-inflammatory.
You’ll be most familiar with this bright yellow ingredient for its use in Indian curries. You can also add turmeric powder to soups, stir-fries, stews and even breads. If you have fresh turmeric root, it’s easy to whip up within a homemade smoothie. Given the distinctive colour stains easily, pay attention to your clothing and flooring when using it.
When you use turmeric, be sure you add a pinch of black pepper, as the curcumin won’t be absorbed without.
A cup of tea not only helps you wake up in the morning and gives you a pause button on the day, it also contains many of those aforementioned immunity-boosting flavonoids. Green tea and white tea are great as they have less caffeine than black tea.
We’ve gone into detail about feeding your gut the good bacteria of fermented foods. Do you fancy sipping on miso soup, adding some sauerkraut to your colourful Buddha bowl, or starting the day with some kefir topped with granola? Then go for it! Fermented foods are your friend. They are an important defender of your immune system – and possibly THE foods to boost your immunity!
Yogurt is the original probiotic before fermented foods gained popularity. Opt for yogurts with live and active cultures, as these include the probiotics (good bacteria) that your body needs for good immunity. If you buy plain organic yogurt then you can flavour it yourself by mixing in blended berries or other fruits. This will ensure you reduce the risk of added sugar.
Here for You
While the global pandemic continues, you can stay healthy by carrying your own doctor within you. For the last 40 years we’ve seen first-hand how food can heal the mind and body. We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on foods to boost your immunity.
Reals Foods has a wide range of local and fresh fruit and vegetables and have a wide range of essentials and organic wholefoods in our online shop.
Why not club together with neighbours, friends and family and bulk buy your wholefoods to save money and eat well?
Real Foods has been serving our community healthy, vegetarian wholefoods since 1975. Today is no different: we are committed to being here for you.