Aesthetics aren’t everything! Sometimes women start diets and exercise programmes in the bid to look a certain way or weigh a certain amount… and that’s okay…but the truth is that beginning a solid foundation of training and focussing on nutrition goes far beyond your reflection in the mirror, how you look in your mom jeans or even your latest progress picture. The weight on the scale means nothing, if you do not have your health.
Celebrating your strength and being more confident in a bikini is only one aspect of nutrition, the other aspect of nutrition, that is often overlooked, is eating to boost your health and immunity. In life, we are faced with many diseases and possible illnesses – like TB, HIV and AIDS, cancers, heart disease, diabetes, bronchitis, Coronavirus, sinus and other infections- not to mention the humble cold and flu. We must ensure that our bodies are adequately equipped to fight off and recover from these illnesses and germs as they will always live with us in the world. It is therefore important that as I remind you that FOOD is medicine. What we eat can and will boost our bodies’ ability to fight off various illnesses.
The best thing to know is that the immune system that you have when you are a baby, is not the one you will have for life. Most of the immune system is built in the childhood years, but you can create and develop your immune system throughout your life, by giving it the right inputs (ie. nutrition for example). The studies are clear- your immune system at the time of getting a virus or infection can actually have an impact on whether you become sick or whether you can fight it off. If 20 people are in a room with a sick person, have you noticed that only some get infected and of those infected, some of them recover faster or some develop more serious symptoms than others? That is largely because of their immune system.
So if you want to build your body’s natural defence forces, fill your diet with enough vitamins. These are essential for the immune system. Most people opt for a supplement to help their bodies obtain enough micronutrients. But, if you can not afford to supplement, then you need to get these nutrients from the food you eat.
I believe in the FOOD FIRST, SUPPLEMENTS LATER approach, so make sure to focus on what you eat before popping a pill. The list below will help you create a diet that will improve your immune system.
ESSENTIAL FOODS FOR BOOSTING YOUR IMMUNITY
Think of these as bricks that you will put together to build immunity- a wall of defence.
First up is Vitamin C
A diet rich in Vitamin C is essential to fight off infections- like colds and flu. When you feel the sniffles coming on, that is the best time to up the intake of vitamin C. You can do this by taking a Vitamin C supplement at the start of an illness. This can decrease the length of time that you are sick.
EAT IT: Vitamin C can be found in broccoli, tomatoes, red peppers, and oranges.
Other important vitamins for immunity include Vitamin D, B, E and K which is present in veggies, green leafy veggies, bananas, poultry, spinach, and broccoli.
Zinc supplements are normally recommended for the immune system, but due to budget constraints, it may not be possible, so eat it by consuming canned tuna in water, Shellfish, Chickpeas, legumes, lentils, beans, dairy, whole grains, seeds, cashews and peanuts.
Fill up on fibre
Fibre is good for your gut which is in-turn essential for your immune system. Fibre can be found in carbs, but remember the quality and the quantities are important. Fibre is not just found in a cereal box advertised as “High in Fibre”. The best places to get your fibre is from are plant-based food, whole grains, sweet potato, veggies, bananas, lentils, and nuts.
Omega 3 is another essential for the immune system. If you do not eat oily fish (like salmon, not meaning fish fried in oil) regularly, then consider an Omega 3 supplement. Olive oil is also good for the immune system as it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body. It also guards the body from infection.
Eat enough protein
Protein normally makes it to the top of muscle- building lists, but did you know that it is also essential for immunity? Eating too little protein has a negative impact on your immune system as protein breaks down into amino acids and ANTIBODIES (used to protect us from and fight infections) are made from amino acids.
Protein is found in eggs, milk, full fat yoghurt, chicken and other meat as well as rice, beans, quinoa, and lentils. Animal proteins are more complete, whereas vegan options only contain some amino acids, I therefore suggest combining different sources of vegan protein on your plate, so that it becomes complete.
Yes, spice your chicken and eat your curries and soups. Using spices and herbs such as rosemary and fennel can boost your immune system. You can also add turmeric to your soups and curries.
Turn up the turmeric
Turmeric contains a powerful anti-inflammatory compound called curcumin. Curcumin activates the production of T-cells. T-cells are the main cells that fight for your health in your immune system.
Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties. Inflammation can affect the immune system , so ginger plays a key role in boosting your immunity.
Garlic is a natural antibiotic, so add it to your diet for flavouring your dishes.
Sip on immune-boosting drinks
Try to incorporate these drinks to your lifestyle.
Some elixirs and juices include:
- Hot water mixed with ginger, lemon and cinnamon and honey. Honey acts as an antibacterial, killing any germs in the body that can cause you to get sick.This drink is awesome when you have a cold, flu or any viral, throat, or nasal infection.
- Golden milk:Which is made of turmeric and warm milk.
- Hulk Juice:This RushTush Glow Girl fave is loaded with immune-boosting ingredients.
- Soup:Chicken soup has an anti-inflammatory effect and calms down inflammation in the upper respiratory tract.
- Green powders:These are filled with superfoods and green leafy veggies. If you have access to it, it is a great addition to your diet.
Eat antioxidant rich food
Think blueberries, bananas and dark chocolate. Apples are a low-cost option and have phytochemical antioxidants which contain antioxidants that help boost immunity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Fill up on cruciferous veggies
Broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables have been proven to help boost immunity. These veggies turn on antioxidant genes in immune cells, which combat free radicals and prevent sickness.
Probiotics is your gut protector
Probiotics are essential for gut health and immunity. Probiotics can be found in yoghurt and even in Amasi, the widely used cultured sour milk. Studies show that people who ate probiotics daily had a lower risk of catching a cold than those who did not consume probiotics.
Eat phytonutrients (Plant vitamins)
Basically plants can’t just up and “leave” when bugs and bad stuff come along, so they develop their own mechanisms to combat it. So, when we eat plants, those mechanisms then assist us. Plant rich diets are essential for your immunity due to these phytonutrients and are found in pigments of the different plants. Eat the rainbow by consuming different coloured veggies according to your budget. Bananas also contain phytonutrients.
*FREE WAYS TO INCREASE YOUR IMMUNITY*
There are a few things you can do to boost your body’s illness fighters- and these won’t cost you a cent.
Boost your metabolism
Metabolism and immunity works side-by- side. The metabolism is about the body’s usage of energy. You need energy to fight off illness. This is why we feel tired when we are unwell. Energy is needed to build yourself up again after illness, so boost your metabolic rate by working out. Even a brisk 30 minute walk does the body good! I have loads of free workouts on my instagram and YouTube. Check it out!
Limit stress and watch your self-talk
Your emotional and mental state impacts your illness- including the common cold- positively or negatively. Try your best to remain positive and manage your stress levels.
Get enough shut-eye
Sleep is so important for your immune system. They say it’s important to get your beauty sleep, but get in those eight hours because during sleep your body’s natural illness fighters are out in full swing. If you are already eating a balanced and healthy diet, you will be surprised at the major effect adding just 30 minutes of extra sleep can have on your body.
Technically this one isn’t free, but does end up costing less.
Eating too much and too often causes inflammation in the body, negatively affecting your gut health and thus negatively affecting your immune system.
I hope that I have empowered you to see that food can be medicine!
I would be remiss if I helped you create your hot bod through my e-books https://rushtush.com/e-books/or your indestructible body through my fitness app https://rushtush.com/fit-app/and sent you on your way without asking you to take care of your health. Health comes first.
It is important to build a healthy constitution within your body, family and household.
Eating unprocessed food from the ground that the earth that you can afford at the time of purchase is going to help the immune system. Lemon, ginger or a banana are not going to cure any disease, that is not the claim that we as health professionals are making, but if you do eat a balanced diet, fill your body with antioxidants, superfoods and keep your body in an alkaline state while WITHIN YOUR BUDGET you are going to stand a better chance of recovery.
I completely understand that we have to eat within our budgets and consume what is economical to feed our families. Sometimes it is easier and more affordable to shop processed and to eat fried fast food. These days it is all about what is quick, convenient and cheap.
Choosing healthy food is a privilege that many do not have. With that said, it is still imperative to incorporate (where we can and within our budgets) those foods that are going to offer us nutrients. So, if you can not afford supplementation then you are going to need to focus on getting those micronutrients from food sources while also focusing on HOW you prepare your foods is also important, so cut back on frying potatoes in oil.
However, if you have the money, don’t think about how you “are spending money on something that is eaten in a few seconds”. REMEMBER your health is an investment and healthy food benefits your body for longer than you realise.
I am not asking you to do a 180 degree makeover of no sugar, no carbs and green veggies only all day- all I am asking is that you think about consuming more nutritional food where you can and according to what your pocket allows. Doing this will improve your immune system and reinforce your health constitution- so that whatever you may be faced with is tackled better and faster by the body.
These tips may not bulletproof you from ALL disease and illness. But, it will assist you to attain your best health to ward off, fight and recover from illness. Eat within your means, but try to eat food that is going to help you be as healthy and as strong as you can be in order to TACKLE, FACE AND RECOVER, OR EVEN MANAGE A CHRONIC LIFE-LONG ILLNESS.
Remember to follow these tips not only when illness is rife, but always. As your immune system is in full swing at all times- even when you are not aware of it. Do what you can, with what you can. Please make use of my free workouts, education and recipe resources, they are there to assist you!
Here’s to good health and immunity!