We get it. Life is getting busier, we’re all under pressure to pack more into our day and keep the plates spinning! So, doing what we can to look after ourselves year round and keep our immunity intact is crucial. The immune system is the body’s defence mechanism. It protects the body against invading organisms including bacteria, viruses and other foreign material like pollen. Having a healthy immune system plays a very important role in how the body works to defend against infections.
There are lots of simple and natural ways to boost immunity:
- Get enough sleep (if you haven't already, read Dr Matthew Walker's research on sleep)
- Stay hydrated
- Regular exercise
- Eat more fruit and vegetables and avoid processed foods
- Limit alcohol
- Wash hands regularly
Sounds simple enough, right? But did you know there are also immune supporting herbs and spices that can be added to cooking to give the whole family a delicious immune boost and keep the sick days at bay?
Here are some standouts to think about with your next meal:
Garlic has been used as a traditional remedy for health conditions for centuries. The health properties are a result of nutrients and biologically active substances present in garlic including enzymes, sulfur-containing compounds and products of enzymatic reactions. Garlic is packed with nutrients including vitamin C, vitamin B6 and manganese. Fresh garlic bulbs contain a compound called alliin. When crushed, chopped or chewed this compound breaks down to form allicin, the main active ingredient in garlic and is believed to contribute to the antibacterial properties of garlic. Garlic powder
(dehydrated ground garlic) is a concentrated form of garlic and has 3x more alliin compared to fresh garlic based on the same weight. Powdered garlic does not contain allicin but still appears to have beneficial properties due to allicin derivatives.
While used as a traditional remedy for centuries, turmeric
has gained enormous attention recently for the biological impact of it’s main active ingredient, curcumin. Curcumin has known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Much of the research on curcumin is in relation to managing inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and heart disease. In terms of supporting immunity, curcumin has been found to have important antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal activities. When consumed on it’s own, curcumin has a poor bioavailability due to low absorption and rapid metabolism and elimination. There are particular agents however, that work to enhance curcumin’s bioavilablity. Piperine, the active component of black peppercorn is known to increase the bioavailability of curcumin by 2000%.
Like garlic, onions are nutrient-dense vegetables containing vitamin C, antioxidants and sulfur-containing compounds. Onion
and garlic also contain prebiotic fibres called fructans, which act as ‘food’ for the good bacteria in our gut. The majority of our immune cells are found in the gut (about 70%), therefore having a healthy gut microbiome helps to regulate and support the immune system.
is part of the Zingiberaceae family along with turmeric, cardamom and galangal. It is known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is commonly used to manage a variety of symptoms including nausea and muscle pain. The active ingredient in ginger, gingerol, appears to have a role in fighting infections by inhibiting harmful bacteria species. It is these powerful properties of ginger that may help to support immunity and enhance the immune response.
are the aromatic flower buds of a tree native to Indonesia. Cloves are a rich source of antioxidants including a naturally occurring antioxidant called eugenol. They also have antimicrobial effects against bacteria and yeasts. Read more about clove in our blog post Let's talk about cloves
- they are an amazing spice for immunity.
The main active compound in thyme
is thymol. Like cloves, thyme is a natural antimicrobial and thyme oil extract has been found to have antimicrobial properties against bacteria and yeast. Thyme is often used to soothe a sore throat or cough.
One of the most commonly used spices, black peppercorns
are the fruit of a flowering vine in the Piperaceae family. The main active ingredient is piperine which has antioxidant properties and some studies suggest that is helps to fight inflammation. Black pepper can increase the absorption of nutrients and plant compounds, especially the curcumin in turmeric (by 2000%).
, a type of capsicum annum, contain a range of micronutrients such as vitamins A, C, E, B6 and K as well as the active ingredient and antioxidant, capsaicin. The heat level of cayenne is determined by the capsaicin content. Most research on capsaicin focusses around its impact on metabolism, suppressing appetite and reducing pain. Capsaicin may also help to reduce nasal congestion, sinus pain and headaches. But if that feels all a bit overwhelming - our new Immunity Blend
has made staying healthy with real food easy. This easy to use blend is packed full of immune-supporting ingredients such as high-grade garlic, ginger, turmeric, clove & cayenne, helping you to fight off colds & infections throughout the year. Simply add 1/2 to 1 tsp to soups, stocks, casseroles and sauces towards the end of cooking. Or get experimental and add a pinch to your everyday cooking for a delicious and nourishing boost. Check out our recipes here.