Have you ever heard the phrase ‘You are what you eat’? Well, it is not too far from the truth. What foods you put into your body matters, as this is what fuels your daily functions – such as your immunity.
Maintaining a healthy diet with nutritious foods is essential to building a strong immune system which can fight off bacteria and viruses and prevent health problems. There is no single superfood that offers you all the vitamins and minerals you need, instead you need to incorporate a variety of different foods into your diet to boost your immune system and aid healthy digestion.
Immune boosting ingredients to incorporate into your diet:
- Citrus fruits – high in vitamin C which helps fight infection.
- Red peppers – ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene which is good for your skin and eyes.
- Broccoli – supercharged with vitamins and minerals making it one of the healthiest foods you can have on your plate. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as many other antioxidants and fiber.
- Spinach – similar to broccoli, spinach is packed with antioxidants that power its infection-fighting ability but is healthiest when cooked as little as possible to retain nutrients.
- Garlic – has immune-boosting properties due to the heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
- Blueberries – are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
- Ginger – can assist in decreasing inflammation, which can help reduce sore throats.
- Salmon – contains vitamin D, a nutrient that triggers the body’s immune cells that kill invading bacteria and viruses.
Science has proven you can boost your immune system by eating the right vitamin-fortified, antioxidant-filled foods straight from nature. However, it is worth noting that no amount of immune boosting nutrient rich ingredients will cancel out your alcohol intake. Drinking alcohol is likely to outweigh any of the benefits, so reducing your alcohol intake should be your first port of call.
These recipes are super simple to achieve so no matter how skilled you are in the kitchen, you can get started on your immune boosting recipes today! Many of these ingredients can be bought fresh or frozen, there’s a lot of stigma around frozen fruits and vegetables, but these are a great way of packing flavour and immune boosting goodness into your diet, all year round and often leaving some change left over too!
Immune boosting recipes
One of the quickest and easiest ways to get vital vitamins such as Vitamin C or Vitamin A into your diet is through juicing fruits into a delicious drink. These can be adapted and personalised to your taste, but apple, orange and ginger is a classic combination, or if you are after that extra dose of health, try the following recipe:
The Green Machine Smoothie
- 15g spinach or kale
- 150ml almond milk
- 35g frozen mango
- 35g frozen pineapple
- 35g frozen banana
- ¼ tsp grated fresh ginger (freeze before grating for ease and freshness!)
- ½ a fresh lemon, squeezed.
Start with the almond milk and spinach in a blender on medium speed until well incorporated. Add in the frozen fruit, lemon juice and ginger and continue to blitz until smooth. If the consistency appears to be too thick, add in a tablespoon of almond milk at a time until you reach the desired consistency.
If you would prefer a dish you could serve up for dinner, then this next one might be for you…
Fish is filled with omega-3, vitamins such as D and B2, is rich in calcium and phosphorus and a great source of minerals, such as iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium. Marinate your fish in other immune boosting ingredients such as garlic or ginger with a side of veg and you’ve got yourself a nutritious meal!
Ginger and garlic baked salmon with a side of nutrient-rich vegetables
- 1 fillet of salmon per person
- 1-inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves of garlic peeled and chopped
- 1 tbsp light soy sauce
- 1 tsp honey
- Handful of fresh or frozen mixed vegetables per person (whatever you have to hand)
Massage the chopped garlic and ginger all over the salmon fillet(s) and then leave to marinade for 10 minutes at room temperature. Whilst your salmon is marinating, mix the honey and light soy sauce together in a bowl then pour this over your fillet(s), spooning any runoff liquid over the salmon to ensure it is entirely coated. Leave to marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes (if you have time – it is best to leave this to soak for 2 hours in the fridge).
Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C (fan-assisted) 375°F/gas mark 5. Line a baking tray with foil and place the marinated fillets on top, carefully folding the foil to create a sealed pocket for the salmon to cook. Put the tray into your preheated oven and allow this to bake for 15-20 minutes until the fillet is flakey.
5 minutes before you are ready to serve your salmon, cut and steam some nutritious vegetables such as broccoli, spinach or red peppers.
Plate up, and enjoy!
Did you think that maintaining a healthy, immune boosting diet would mean there was no space for desserts? Think again!
Depending on which kinds of desserts you eat, you can get a number of essential nutrients from eating dessert. Who knew! Desserts can offer the perfect opportunity to incorporate more fruit into your diet which can be beneficial to your immune system.
Whole wheat blueberry muffins
- 125g whole wheat flour
- 70g brown sugar
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 70g walnuts, pecans or any nut of your choice
- 100g blueberries
- 60 ml almond milk or milk of your choice
- 1 large egg
Preheat the oven to 175°C/340°F/gas mark 5 and line your cupcake/muffin tray with paper or reusable muffin cases. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a large bowl, adding the sugar and your choice of nuts, these are your dry ingredients. In another bowl, beat eggs and almond milk until well combined. Slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing well.
Pour equal amounts of batter into each of the muffin cases – an ice cream scoop works wonders for this – then bake for 30-40 minutes (test if the muffins are cooked on the inside by inserting with a knife or skewer – if it comes out clean then muffins are done). Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few moments before transferring to your wire cooling rack until completely cooled.
And there you have it – some tasty recipes incorporating some super immune boosting ingredients to keep your meals delicious and nutritious. If you recreate any of these immune boosting recipes at home, remember to tag us on socials so we can share your healthy food snaps!