While our friends in the Northern Hemisphere are revelling in the warmer weather, for us down under, the cooler months have begun to take their toll (unless we have been smart and decided to escape – Hello Europe) which has also meant an increase in colds and flus floating around! Our dietitian Olivia shares the 5 best foods for keeping your immune system in tip top shape:
- Fresh (or frozen) fruit and vegetables – you have heard the saying, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” – while it takes a bit more than an apple, the fundamental concept is there! Fruit and vegetables are rich sources of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. Antioxidants in particular, boost the immune system by mopping up free radicals which attack cells. When people talk about antioxidants you will often hear them refer to the ORAC value – with higher values corresponding to higher antioxidant content. You will notice when you compare the ORAC values of F&V, a general rule of thumb is the darker the colour, the higher the antioxidant content. Blueberries and raspberries are particularly high in antioxidants so try adding them to your breakfast or enjoying them as a snack through the day for a seriously delicious and low sugar boost to your immune system!
- Turmeric – This bright yellow coloured spice has been getting some serious airtime of late with turmeric being added to everything from your warming curry, the crumbing on your fish and increasingly as an alternative beverage to your morning coffee (sans caffeine) with Turmeric Latte’s (AKA Golden Milk) popping up on menus everywhere. In an era of ‘superfoods’, Turmeric, a spice which has been around for centuries, has been escalated to stardom status. Curcumin, the active ingredient in Turmeric is responsible for it’s distinct yellow colour, as well as providing a list of health benefits, in particular reducing inflammation, with its benefits been comparable to that of anti-inflammatory drugs! It is also a powerful antioxidant and is a well tolerated treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Try incorporating turmeric into your regime – we recommend a Golden Latte made on our Almond Milk for a delicious way to get the benefits!
- Ginger – A well known spice in Asian and Indian Cuisine, as well as being very popular in the western world, Ginger has long been heralded for its immune boosting properties. It is particularly effective for the relief of nausea and symptoms associated with colds and is best simply served as a ginger tea. Slice fresh ginger and place in mug topped with hot water. Add manuka honey and lemon for extra anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties!
- Yoghurt & Fermented foods – Probiotics found in yoghurts and other fermented foods play a major role in maintaining the balance of bacteria within our gut. Ensuring there is adequate good bacteria, is essential for keeping our digestive system functioning optimally as this represents the first line of defence against pathogens which ultimately make us sick. Incorporate yoghurt (try Luz Almond Milk Yoghurt) into your daily routine to give your gut a healthy boost!
- Matcha – Before there was turmeric, there was Matcha! A long standing tradition in Japanese culture, the Western world caught wind of this vibrant green powder a little while back and these days it is commonplace to see it in everything from lattes (Have you tried our Matcha Almond Milk?) to cakes, desserts and even pancakes! Matcha which literally meals ‘powdered tea’ is basically a super concentrated version of green tea, concentrated in everything from colour, to taste and health benefits. One of the main benefits associated with matcha is the buzz of energy similar to that of caffeine, but without the jittery and anxious side effects. It also rich in antioxidants (ORAC values 20 x that of blueberries) and is known to enhance mood and improve memory and concentration.