While it seems like some countries — Australia and New Zealand included — have flattened the coronavirus curve, it’s still super important to take care of our bodies.
The best way to do that (other than social distancing) is trying to boost our immune systems as much as possible.
Making small nutritional changes can have a huge impact on your immune response and your body’s ability to fight illness. So, here are the foods and recipes you need in your life right now!
Which foods are best for our immune system?
Let’s start with ingredients that are best for your immune system. You want to choose foods that are rich in the following:
- Vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant that is probably the most well-known vitamin for strengthening our cells.
- Vitamin B complex – particularly vitamin B6 and B12, help our immune system have a healthy response to any intruders.
- Vitamin D – very important for our immune system because it helps make our monocytes and macrophages (types of white blood cells) stronger. It also decreases inflammation.
The following foods are jam-packed with these vitamins:
- Garlic – recognised for its power to fight infections, garlic may even help with blood pressure. Not to mention, it makes everything taste better!
- Turmeric – a key ingredient for curry, turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat serious conditions such as arthritis.
- Ginger – full of gingerol that’s closely related to capsaicin (the ingredient that gives hot peppers the heat), it’s used to spice up many meals and is often used to deal with a sore throat due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Broccoli – bursting with vitamins C, E, as well as fibres and antioxidants.
- Mushrooms – an excellent source of protein, vitamins B, C, and D, all of which help boost our immune system.
- Capsicums – especially the red kind, are full of vitamin C and beta carotene.
For harder to get vitamins, like vitamin A, zinc, and selenium, supplements are useful to have to-hand. Supplements are a great way to boost the extra minerals you’re lacking, and maintain a balanced and healthy diet.
Now, let’s get to the good bit and look at some delicious immune-boosting recipes!
Lentil veggie stew for days when you feel low
This veggie stew is packed with nutritious goodness, designed to keep your immune system on top form and ready to battle any virus. It’s hearty and healthy too! There really is no better combo.
What you need:
- 2 cups red onion – diced
- 2 cups carrot – diced
- 2 cloves of garlic – minced
- 2 cups of capsicum (whichever colour you like) – diced
- 2 cups of mushrooms – button, shiitake, cremini – sliced
- 1 cup of celery – diced
- ¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 1 pound green lentils
- 7 ounces baby spinach
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-quart vegetable broth
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- ground black pepper
Step 1: In a medium-sized pot, heat up the oil over medium heat and toss in onions, carrots, and garlic. Saute for 3 minutes.
Step 2: Add capsicum, celery, and mushrooms, and season with salt so the mushrooms release the water faster, and leave until everything begins to soften. About 5 minutes is enough.
Step 3: Add the tomato paste, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, and broth and bring to boil.
Step 4: Simmer for at least 30 minutes. The lentils should be al dente.
Step 5: Add spinach and let it wilt.
Step 6: Add pepper and salt to taste.
Kale juice to the rescue
Green juices are super effective for helping your immune system. A common favourite features kale, celery, and baby spinach combined with fruit to take away any bitterness. But you can kick the health benefits up a notch by adding some tomato to the whole thing instead of fruit. Well, technically a tomato is a fruit, but you know what we mean. And it still tastes delicious.
To make two juices you need:
- ½ pound kale
- 4 ribs celery
- 2 pints tomato – cherry or grape work best
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- Bit of hot sauce (optional)
Step 1: Prepare juices from kale, celery, and tomato.
Step 2: Mix all of them and add soy sauce, hot sauce, and lemon juice.
Step 3: Stir until well combined and serve with a celery rib.
Good ol’ chicken Soup
You can’t go down the immunity-boosting route without having a great chicken soup recipe in your back pocket! It’s a traditional go-to food when you don’t feel well, and it rejuvenates the mind and body, too.
This recipe is particularly beneficial for respiratory infections thanks to its wealth of healthy ingredients and herbs like ginger, garlic, turmeric, and pepper which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties in traditional herbal remedies.
What you need:
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 celery stalks
- canned peas
- 1 tbsp grated ginger
- 1 tsp ground turmeric
- 1 pound chicken breast (or tighs) – skinless and boneless
- chicken broth – enough to cover the chicken
- thyme, parsley, rosemary (fresh or dried)
- black pepper and salt to taste
Step 1: Dice the garlic, onion, and celery stalks; slice the carrots.
Step 2: Heat up the oil in a large pot and add the garlic and onion. Stir for a minute, then add carrots and celery, and stir until onion is translucent.
Step 3: Add ginger and turmeric, and saute for half a minute so the spices can develop.
Step 4: Now add the chicken and stir well so it takes up all the flavours.
Step 5: Add chicken broth and cover chicken fully.
Step 6: Finish by adding salt, pepper, thyme, rosemary, and parsley.
Step 7: Bring to a boil, and then lower to medium heat and simmer for at least 20 to 25 minutes until chicken is cooked through.
Step 8: Five to ten minutes before it’s done, add in the peas.
Step 9: Once the chicken is cooked, take it out, shred to pieces and add it back to the pot. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
Note: If you’d like a veggie version, leave out the chicken and use a vegetable broth instead.
Try these recipes to boost your immune system (as well as your overall health) and let us know how you get on!