Natural Foods To Boost Your Immune System
As the weather turns colder, stay healthy so you can continue to run throughout the Winter. Eat these natural foods to boost your immune system every day.
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is one of the best things you can do to support your immune health naturally over the long-term. As runners, we already eat well, with plenty of vegetables, fruits, starchy carbohydrates, colourful root veg, proteins and essential fatty acids. Make sure you’re squeezing every last bit of nutrition out of your diet by including these all-natural immune boosters.
What Does Our Immune Systems Need?
It’s important to pay attention to certain vitamins and minerals for great immune system health. Vitamins A, C, E and B6 are key for female runners, as are iron, zinc, copper and selenium. You could pop a pill but why do that when nature’s bounty has already done the work for you? (And eating tasty home-cooked meals is so much more appealing than supplementing with a multi vit!).
It’s also important to ensure you’re getting enough calories, and adequate carbohydrates. Women runners should never try to pursue low-calorie diets, or low-carb approaches. And at this time of year it’s even more important to get enough energy into your hard-working body. Don’t forget your protein (try to get it from a range of sources including meat, fish, eggs, dairy and plant-based proteins like nuts, seeds, pulses and beans). And healthy fat will help your body absorb, digest and use every nutrient you ingest. Get it from avocados, oily fish, whole eggs, flax, nuts and seeds.
Nature’s Best Immune-Boosting Foods
Home-made soups and stocks: chicken soup is a great choice for warding off and recovering from winter illness, but any home made stock will be better than shop-bought soups. Add fresh and dried herbs and spices including red or green chili, turmeric and cardamom to up the immune-boosting power of your soup.
Garlic and onion: these two healing foods have lots of natural antiseptic properties, protecting you from germs, and unblocking noses and sinuses.
Mushrooms: these unassuming grocery-list staples are amazingly nutritious. Mushrooms increase the body’s production of cytokine (cells that help fight off infection) and contain polysaccharides to support the immune system. Try exotic types such as shiitake and reishi mushrooms.
Fresh ginger: ginger root contains natural chemicals called sesquiterpenes that are particularly useful in the fight against rhinoviruses (of which the common cold is one). Fresh ginger is also very soothing, gives natural pain relief, and even has a mild sedative effect. Make tea from slices of the knobbly root to get the most from this wonderful food.
Black pepper: black peppercorns are very high in the compound pipeline, which has powerful natural pain-relieving and fever-reducing properties.
Citrus Fruits: we all know that oranges are supposedly one of the highest sources of vitamin C, but did you know that this important vitamin is found in very high levels in sweet potatoes, squash (including pumpkin and butternut), tomatoes, red bell peppers, and even broccoli and brussels sprouts!
Nature knows what she’s doing – most of these foods are plentiful at this time of year. So stock up!