COVID 19 - Time for an immune system booster.

With lockdown continuing for a few more weeks let's spend some time reviewing foods that help boost our immune system. These might not cure colds, flu or even COVID 19 but it could very well help keep you in good shape. But not only do you need to eat healthily you should get adaquate sleep, exercise regularly and do things such as listening to relaxing music to destress.

1. A good range of seafood that boosts immunity with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids.

Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are found abundantly in oily fish such as salmon, sardines, herring and mackerel. Scientists believe that these acids enhance the functioning of immune cells and may enhance the activity of white blood cells which help ward off infection.

Watch our video on cooking soy and honey glazed salmon on this link.

2. Minerals and  proteins to support the production of white blood cells.

Zinc is a mineral that is abundant in oysters, poultry, seafood, beef and lamb which helps boost the immune system. Certain types of blood cells need zinc to function properly. If you are a vegan or vegetarian then try using tofu. For the most healthy option use lean meat and don't overdo it especially with red meat - watch the bathroom scales.

3. Dark chocolate contains magnesium.

Although you need a well-balanced vitamin intake through the foods that you eat, research has noted  that magnesium helps lymphocytes ( a type of white blood cell) bind to cell invaders so that they can be easily removed. So for magnesium, eat dark chocolate (source of cocoa) avocados and brown rice.

4. Citrus and leafy greens for vitamin C.

Almost everyone considers that vitamin C is a popular vitamin for warding off colds and helps with oxidative stress (an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants) and there have been many peer-to-peer reviewed articles on this subject. There are studies that suggest that oxidative stress is associated with the increase risk of health conditions such as stroke, cancer and diabetes. Vitamin C is a free radical scavanger and enhances the immune system by enhancing cellular function. Foods to choose are oranges, lemons, strawberries, blueberries (pick fruits of varying colours). Tomatoes, brocoli, leafy cabbage and all colours of bell peppers. Eat raw where possible as vitamin C is heat is destroyed by heat. Using a microwave to cook food is believed to almost certainly destroy vitamins.

5. Nuts and seeds for vitamin E, Selenium and Magnesium.

Nuts are great as a snack but they also help with your immune system. They are rich in the antioxidant vitamin E, magnesium and selenium (particularly Brazil nuts). Options include almonds, walnuts, pecans and sunflower seeds. Just a handful or use them to sprinkle over salads. Nuts are loaded with calories!

 6. Garlic and onions for anti-viral properties.

Old wives tale or not, garlic contains sulphur compounds and is known for its health benefits that offer protection to your health and immune system. When it is crushed or chopped it releases a compound called allicin which is known for its antiviral and anti-bacterial properties. Onions contain a substance called quercetin that may also contain antiviral properties. So dish up a dinner that contains garlic, onions and tomatoes that adds vitamin C.

The answer is to eat well - but keep in control of the calories, get enough nutrients and protein. Avoid foods that contain added sugar and if you like your tea sweet then substiture sugar for honey which is also understood to contain antiviral properties - especially Manuka honey which acts against varicella-zoster, a herpes type virus that can cause shingles. Try to avoid high amounts of saturated fat and keep hydrated with plenty of water. Don't use a lot of calorie rich fruit juices - eat the raw fruit which also contains useful fibre for conditioning the digestive system. But whatever you do enjoy your food and start learning to cook - watch our videos.