The incredible immune boosting actions of our every day vegetables that we find right in our garden, or at the store, are cleverly designed to help your body thrive.
Most of us know that fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
Some of these specifically target and support your immune system, as well as other compounds that target and destroy any invaders like viruses, bacteria and fungus.
Mushrooms have potent immunosuppressant agents; they are your immune systems best friend. There are mushrooms that kill bacteria, viruses and even yeast. Try to mix up your mushroom selection, and eat a range of what you can get your hands on. If you hit your local weekly farmers market, there is usually a Mushroom Man there with some weird and wonderful options. We’re used to seeing button, swiss brown and flat mushrooms at the store; add to this by seeking out some shiitake, reishi, oyster or even chaga! YUM.
Cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli have sulfur-containing compounds that are broken down when chopped, bitten and crushed. This converts to isothiocyanates or ITCs. ITCs have potent immune boosting actions, and are antiviral and antibacterial. These vegetables thrive in the colder months, making them perfect for our winter immune boosting regime.
Garlic is an antiseptic, antifungal and has plenty of nutritive properties. It contains allicin, which turns into organosulfurs, which support your cells from destructive processes. Garlic is packed with nutrients, particularly vitamins B1, B6 and C, iron and phosphorus, all of these supports its ability to fight infection, prevent colds and even cancer. Garlic is typically harvested on the longest day of the year, but will keep for a long time, making it available most months.
Like garlic, onion contains allicin, which slows down and kills some viruses and bacteria. Onion also contains quercetin, a nutrient that breaks up mucus and inflammation in the nose, throat and chest, whilst boosting your immune system. You’ll notice the pungency of onion will increase blood circulation and help you sweat. From a holistic perspective, sweating out any cold or flu you have is preferable and supports your body’s ability to fight the invader.
Beets are an amazing blood purifier. Fancy that! If we just think about the colour, and even the texture of beet juice, what does it remind you of? Nature has a way of directing us to certain foods and their therapeutic properties. Beets are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, help you produce your disease fighting white blood cells, and boost oxygen supply to your cells. Beets main harvest times in Australia are in August, September and October. Eat plenty of this beautiful, rich coloured root vegetable, and use the leaves in salad.
Spinach is rich in beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A in the body and triggers your immune system to keep you well. It also has high vitamin C content, known to improve immunity along with antihistamine actions. Overheating spinach destroys most of the health benefits, so try to consume raw in salads, smoothies, or if cooking, make sure you prepare on low heat.
Similarly to spinach, sweet potatoes have beta-carotene and vitamin C. They have potent antioxidant, antiviral and anticancer properties. This tasty, bright vegetable is usually planted throughout spring and harvested in autumn and winter, making them perfect for our immune delicate months.