With the pandemic still very much looming over us, cold and flu prevention has become even more important. A great way to prevent yourself falling ill is by bolstering your immune system through your diet. There are foods that you can integrate into your diet that can support your immune system and help you recover faster if you do get sick with a seasonal cold.
Of course, we strongly suggest that you follow your local public health office’s guidelines to help you return to optimal health after getting sick, but boosting your immune system can also positively contribute to your overall well-being.
For a list of tried and tested immune-boosting foods, we’ve asked our friends Idil Farah and Abena Offeh-Gyimah for help. Idil is a nutritionist whose ultimate goal is to teach people on how to improve their health by using food as medicine and Abena is the founder and CEO of Adda Blooms, a company that produces delicious snacks with ancestral African ingredients like baobab and tigernut.
Ancestral foods are ingredients that have been harvested from the land and enjoyed by our ancestors for tens of thousands of years. Many of the foods suggested by Idil and Abena are grown in Africa and are unprocessed and unrefined, making them packed to the brim with nutritional value.
You can learn more on the power and benefits of ancestral foods in Idil and Abena’s upcoming guide, The Ancestral African Cookbook. Follow them on social media, @idilsworld and @livingtheancestralway, to find out when it’ll be released!
Said to have ten times the level of vitamin C found in oranges, the fruit of the baobab tree is an excellent antioxidant, antimicrobial, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory ingredient. The power of this ancient tree lies in its nutritional and environmental benefits. Found in Madagascar, mainland Africa, and Australia, the baobab carries deep ancestral wisdom, literally sustaining life! Imagine eating a wholefood from a thousand-year-old tree!
Baobab is also prebiotic, which means that it feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut. With over 70% of our immune system living in our gut, what we consume has a significant influence on the immune system’s development. If our gut isn’t well-balanced, our immune system isn’t either. To ensure the right balance of bacteria, Idil and Abena suggest adding a tablespoon of baobab powder to a cup of warm water with some ginger, juice from half a lemon, and a teaspoon of honey.
Adding grapefruits, lemon, oranges, or lime to your water is a simple way to include Vitamin C into your diet as well as a way to stay hydrated as you work from home.
Vitamin C is one of the most crucial vitamins available for supporting the immune system. Although our body doesn’t make it, we need it to form and maintain healthy skin, bones, and connective tissues. Added bonus: it acts as a great antioxidant in helping our cells fight against inflammation.
Eating foods high in vitamin C during a cold can help shorten it and bring some much-needed power to your immune system.
As one of the most popular ingredients in the world, ginger has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine; it’s been used in healing practices for over 5000 years. Ginger contains gingerol, a compound that contains potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can support immune function.
Its antibacterial properties act as a powerful decongestant for the nose and throat by clearing the sinuses. Try adding a few slices of fresh ginger into a cup of warm water and lemon.
Last but not least, turmeric is a must in your cold and flu prevention regimen. This earthy, bitter spice is used for culinary and medicinal purposes for centuries. It’s a close relative of the ginger root and is best known for helping the immune system.
One of turmeric’s greatest attributes is its key active ingredient: curcumin. Known as nature’s best anti-inflammatory, curcumin is a great addition to any diet and once paired with black pepper’s piperine compound, it supports anti-inflammatory responses throughout the body, helping to stave off viruses and keep the immune system in top working order.
For the flu season, Idil and Abena suggest adding extra turmeric to your diet to help your immune system. Just a teaspoon of turmeric mixed with a sprinkle of black pepper into a cup of tea will deliver for an extra boost of health.
Curious about combining the ancestral ingredients listed above? Try Idil and Abena’s quick and easy tonic recipe. Simply add a teaspoon of baobab powder, a teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, and a teaspoon of fresh turmeric to a cup of warm water with a squeeze of lemon juice and a slice of lemon peel (keep the white part!) and mix well to combine. Cheers to your health!