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Immune Boosting Foods to Tide You Through the Flu Season

by Voices Wellness 22 Nov 2021
Photo: Unsplash

Wondering how to stay healthy during the flu season? Consider taking better care of your gut for a stronger immune system. By culinary nutritionist CAROLINE CHOW; edited by SAMANTHA FRANCIS.

With the ongoing pandemic and upcoming flu season, it’s only natural that our bodies need a little extra TLC. If you’re looking to boost your immune system, why not start with your gut health and the nutrients you’re choosing to fuel your body with? 

The link between diet and immune system

Our immune system is a powerful thing. Although our skin may not immediately come to mind, it’s one of our first lines of defense. Next, our sweat and stomach acid prevent bacteria from invading our bodies. Our gut health also plays a major role via the gut bacteria and the mucus membranes that line our intestines. In fact, 70 percent of our immune system is found in our gut.

These mucus membranes produce antibodies that are integral to our body’s immune response and its ability to fight pathogens. As such, there is a clear correlation between our gut health and our immune health. When we consume a nutrient-dense diet, we provide our gut and body with the nutrients it needs to build a healthy mucus membrane. These nutrients, which include Vitamin B, protein, fibre, and probiotics, support the body in producing suitable levels of antibodies. Meanwhile, those on a poor diet will see opposite effects.

A healthy gut is especially important during flu season and times of high stress. When we feel stressed, nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin B, and magnesium are quickly depleted by the body—all of which are also essential to a healthy immune system.

Immunity boosting foods

When it comes to boosting immunity, we aim to include foods that are high in antioxidants, specifically vitamins A, C, E, zinc, selenium, vitamin D, and Omega-3 essential fatty acids. Nutrients that support the gut will have a direct effect on the immune system.

Photo: Unsplash

Salmon

Salmon contains high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids that can positively impact our gut bacteria, as well as act as a source of protein to help build flu-fighting antibodies.

Photo: Unsplash

Raw Garlic

Garlic is a powerful food to include in your diet as it contains strong anti-microbial compounds that are at their best when consumed raw. It also contains small amounts of vitamin B6 and selenium to support a strong immune system and digestive tract. 

Photo: Unsplash

Mushrooms

These often-overlooked superfoods make it on the list for their high levels of vitamin D, which regulates the proper functioning of the immune system. Mushrooms also come with adaptogenic properties that can support the body in regulating stress during the holiday season.

They can be easily added to soups, stews, and curries and are wonderful in this Asian Lamb Stew that is packed with protein, antioxidants, and immune-stimulating ingredients like ginger and garlic.

Photo: Unsplash

Firm tofu

Tofu is a great source of immune-supportive magnesium and zinc, as well as iron and calcium. Choose firm tofu as it contains higher levels of these nutrients. It also makes a quick and easy source of protein in curries or soups—perfect for weeknight dinners.

Photo: Unsplash

 

Ginger

A popular spice in Asian cuisine thanks to its flavour and subtle heat, ginger is packed with health benefits. It’s known to contain a compound called gingerol, a strong antioxidant to help reduce inflammation in the body and support the immune system. It’s especially wonderful in a zingy and soothing tea like this one.

Read Caroline’s blog here.

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