With winter at the doorstep, it has already become a good tradition to stock up on honey, ginger and vitamin C supplements. In trying to guard ourselves from cold and flu, we turn to the foods and treatments that, we believe, will help our immune system and are ready to believe any health claims, trustworthy or not, to avoid getting sick.
Cue “10 foods to boost your immune system”. Alas, not.
First of all, any health practitioner will explain that you can’t just “boost” it. Immune system is extremely complex and much is still not known about it, which provides room for all sorts of rumours and myths. It IS known, however, that so far, there is not one magic food or vitamin that can “improve” it. The system already does a good job of protecting you. Again, let’s turn to the advice from the Harvard Medical School: the best evidence-proven advice so far is leading a healthy lifestyle. What does that entail then?
- Getting proper balanced nutrition. That means: plenty of fruit and vege, whole grains, lean proteins and healthy oils. Unfortunately, wheatgrass shots are not on the essentials list.
- No smoking
- Only consuming alcohol in moderation
- Reducing stress
- Exercise regularly
- Get adequate amount of sleep, especially restorative sleep
- Maintain sanitary safety e.g. wash your hands and cook foods well
Adhering to these principles will also help you survive a cold better than munching on vitamin C or downing Echinacea drops. Vitamin C is helpful if you consume it every day, not just when the virus strikes. By the way, you will also be better off eating fresh oranges. Mega doses (500-2000 mg) offered by supplements companies won’t do anything of benefit to your body – an adult only requires 60-90 mg of the vitamin daily. The same goes to the other vitamins and minerals important in our immune systems. They are almost unavoidable if you’re following a healthy diet.
Should you ditch your ginger tea and honey then? What about licorice lozenges?! Well, we at Elimento believe that food should bring you comfort and happiness and that's key to good health. So if it's ginger tea, or, perhaps a bucket of oranges that will make make you feel better when struck with the illness, please have them.