May 16

How healthy eating can boost your immune system

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You need an overall health regime of daily exercise, good sleep and general healthy eating in order to fight illness.

This includes eating a balanced diet including fruit and vegetables and food rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are needed to protect your cells against free radicals which may be trying to attack your body.

Some foods that help fight disease

Blueberries

Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin which acts as an antioxidant and aids in boosting your immune system. Add to a bowl of oats in the morning or you can simply eat them as is, with yoghurt. Plain or Greek yoghurt has live A and B cultures which also contribute to supporting your immune health.

Turmeric

This is a relatively easy one for most South Africans, especially Durbanites. We do love our curries. Turmeric is a spice added to the rice that gives it that yellow colouring but it also contains curcumin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and helps build your immunity. You can also buy turmeric in capsules if you are not a curry fan. Turmeric can also be added to smoothies.

Spinach

Spinach is rich in essential nutrients and contains flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin E and vitamin C. Vitamin C is a vital immune-boosting element and can be found in a few different foods including citrus fruit. Spinach can be eaten on its own in a salad or a delicious side dish to accompany a meat dish.

Papaya

Papaya is rich in vitamin C and is easily and readily available. It is said to contain double the recommended daily dose of vitamin C in one portion. It’s not a fruit to everyone’s liking but toss it in a fruit salad and the taste is disguised. It is a good idea when the seasons are changing and you know it’s a time when everyone is going to get sick to dose up on your vitamin C-enriched foods.

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Sunflower seeds

Phosphorous, Magnesium, vitamins B-6 and E are found in sunflower seeds. They are high in selenium which is a trace mineral that is important for cognitive function and a healthy immune system. Some people eat them straight from the husk. You can add them to whole grain bread or granola bar recipes. They can be sprinkled in salads. They also make a great additional ingredient to pestos.

Other healthy eating ideas

Green tea, almonds and even red bell peppers also have immune-boosting properties.

By eating healthy and applying these few things you basically reduce your risk of getting ill. You could try all of the above and still get sick so the best is to take care of yourself as best you can. It is good to remember to reduce stress in your life as much as possible and get a good night’s sleep, too.

This content has been created as part of our freelancer relief programme. We are supporting journalists and freelance writers impacted by the economic slowdown caused by #lockdownlife.

If you are a freelancer looking to contribute to The South African, read more here.

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