– FIT & HEALTHY –
Cold- and flu-causing viruses are everywhere and it’s especially easy to catch one when the weather is hot and humid, or cold. To prevent yourself from getting sick frequently, you need a strong immune system. Take in these nutrient-dense “superfoods” that boost your immune system so you stand a better chance of winning the war when you came face-to-face with these viruses.
1. Citrus Fruits
It’s a no brainer why Vitamin C supplements are always orange flavoured. Besides being popular for its sweet, refreshing taste, oranges (and other citrus fruits) are one of best sources of vitamin C which helps the body maintain a strong immune system, healthy tissue and skin which creates a barrier that stops pathogens from entering your body. It also helps you make white blood cells and boosts their function. One medium orange contains 70mg of vitamin C (The US RDA for vitamin C are 90mg for males and 75mg for females). Besides, oranges are also rich in flavonoids – plant pigment compounds that act as antioxidants which enhance the effects of vitamin C.
While capsicums are mild in taste compared to their famous cousin – the hot chilli peppers, when it comes to nutrients, capsicums are well superior to many vegetables. A cup of capsicums provides 117 mg of vitamin C (about twice the amount found in a typical orange.) The riper the capsicum, the higher the amount of its vitamin C – yellow capsicum has the most, with 341.3mg each. Moreover, capsicums are rich in vitamin E and over 30 different carotenoids – all which are potent antioxidants and immune modulators.
This pungent superfood is a powerful flu fighter. Garlic contains compounds called allion and allicin, which have direct antiviral effects. Alliin also acts as a decongestant. Documented evidence suggests that people who consume large quantities of garlic on the onset of a cold will reduce the amount of time it takes them to heal. So, add garlic liberally to your favourite foods; and when you find yourself at the brink of having a cold, smash a clove of garlic, add it to a teaspoon of honey and consume every day. This mixture will soothe your throat and help prevent a full-blown infection. Do take note that you might want to consume this after food as raw garlic may irritate the stomach.
Onions are found to contain the highest amount of selenium than many other vegetables. Selenium is the trace mineral which helps reduce inflammation and stimulates immune function. Immune cells that are deficient in selenium undergo more oxidation, causing them to develop and reproduce inefficiently. Like garlic, onions also contain the antimicrobial compounds allion and allicin. Reap the onion’s flu-fighting benefit by adding it to your daily cooking if you find it difficult to consume them raw.
Oysters are rich in zinc, which strengthens your immune response by helping white blood cells (or leukocytes, primary specialised cells which destroy disease-causing microorganisms) reproduce more rapidly. One medium oyster provides nearly all of the zinc you need for a day, while a portion of six gives you over five times the recommended amount. Besides, oysters are also high in selenium, which enhances the ability of lymphocytes such as NK cells (killer cells) which destroy the bacteria and viruses that invade our body.
Honey is loaded with vitamins, minerals, and enzymes which support the immune system. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria and fungi. Honey coats the throat and helps to soothe sore throats. Other cold and flu symptoms, such as coughs and congestion are also kept at bay when treated with honey. Add 1-2 tablespoons of honey to a cup of warm water and consume daily. For an extra immunity boost, mix a slice of lemon into your honey.