4 Superfoods to boost your immune system and reduce inflammation
Inflammation is a vital part of the immune systems response to infection or injuries. It is the body's way of signaling the immune system to heal and repair damaged tissue whilst fighting against foreign invaders including viruses or bacteria.
If the inflammatory process goes on for too long or occurs in places where it's not needed, it can become problematic for one's health. Chronic inflammation has been linked to certain diseases including heart disease and stroke and can also lead to autoimmune diseases such as arthritis.
A healthy and balanced diet incorporating superfoods gives the body all the tools it needs to keep chronic inflammation under control. Here are 4 superfoods that are guaranteed to keep your health in check!
Immunity is the body's natural defence against disease-causing bacteria and viruses. Turmeric aids in making our immunity stronger! Curcurim is the main active ingredient in Turmeric; containing bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties. One of Tumerics main health superpowers is its natural anti-inflammatory properties.
Curcumin is strongly anti inflammatory, matching and exceeding the effectiveness of some anti inflammatory drugs (all natural without the side effects). The spice blocks the molecules that travel into the nuclei of your cells and turns on genes related to inflammation. As researched by the MPDI, Curcumin has been shown to block NF-KB; A protein complex that can control the transcription of DNA. Incorrect regulation of NF-KB has been linked to diseases including Cancer and autoimmune diseases. Curcumin acts as a NF-KB inhibitor and exhibits both anti inflammatory and anti cancer properties.
Throughout the flu system and times where unnamed viruses are circulating around! Turmeric is an all natural way to boost your immune system. The superfood supports the body to increase the immunomodulating capacity of the body. The high antioxidant and anti bacterial content in turmeric reduces symptoms of the cold and flu by reducing the free radical cells in the body. Free radicals are highly unstable molecules formed naturally within the body causing oxidative stress; triggering cell damage and increasing inflammation. Turmeric combination of anti inflammatory and high antioxidant qualities modulates the immune system to support healthy day to day living whilst stopping chronic inflammation in the background!
Dragonfruit is a nutritious-not to mention vibrant fruit- which originated in South America. The fruit has a pink bulb appearance with a slightly sweet taste that is often described as a cross between a kiwi, pear and a watermelon. Not only that, this fun looking fruit is extremely nutritious and beneficial for the immune system.
The body's ability to fight infection is largely down to Vitamin C. This antioxidant is an essential nutrient in order to aid the body in fighting bacteria, viruses, fungi and cancer cells. Dragonfruit is rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C which is crucial in order to build a resilient immune system. The fruit strengthens immunity by aiding the absorption of iron by the body, producing collagen which makes our teeth healthier, and promoting a healthy and glowing skin. As study by Maggi and Carr (2017) into Vitamin C intervention studies shows that Vitamin C protects the body against oxidative stress by external factors including environmental pollution. Dragonfruit’s vitamin C content also enhances the epithelial barrier function; The body's shield to bacteria and transportation agent of healthy nutrients and water that the body requires to create a strong and healthy immune system!
Dragonfruit’s high fiber content makes it an excellent whole food source. The Recommended daily intake for fiber is around 25 grams; Dragon packs almost a third of that with 7 grams in a single 1 cup serving. Fiber represents a group of indigestible carbohydrates which lowers cholesterol and improve body sugar level. Dragonfruit’s high fiber content has been linked to lower body weight, alleviating obesity which is a induced chronic inflammation marker in human studies. This study by Kuo (2013) showed high fiber foods had a lower BMI and a decreased risk of inflammation.
Blue Spirulina is a blue/green alga that became famous after it was successfully used by Nasa as a dietary supplement for astronauts on space missions. It has been implemented in many healthy diets ever since. The Alga represents an important staple diet in humans and has been used as a source of protein and vitamin supplement in humans with no side effects!
In fact, phycocyanin, the plant pigment that gives Spirulina its blue-green colour has been found not only to reduce inflammation in the body, but also blocks tumour growth and kills cancer cells! Like curcumin, phycocyanin fights the bodys’ free radicals and stops the production of inflammatory signaling molecules, providing impressive antioxidant qualities.
With Cardiovascular diseases continuing as the number one cause of death in developed countries, a diet with an abundance of Spirulina helps reduce blood cholesterol, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol; One of the key factors in the early development of heart disease.The antioxidants in Spirulina are super effective at reducing lipid peroxidation which is a key driver for inflammation that ultimately leads to many serious diseases. An example of this was a study undertaken in India with precancerous lesions called oral fibrosis (Leech) 2018; Among those who took 1 gram of spirulina per day for one year, 45% saw their lesions disappear completely! 50% of the group who stopped taking spirulina had redeveloped lesions in the following year, emphasizing the importance of Spirulina for its anti inflammatory properties.
Kale is a green, leafy vegetable that is extremely rich in nutrients, and has become a household name in the superfoods family. Its fiber, antioxidant, calcium, and high iron qualities makes the vegetable an undeniable option in a balanced healthy diet.
Perhaps one of Kales strongest qualities is its rich beta-carotene (vitamin A) content. Vitamin A has known to be a power antioxidant that boosts the immune system whilst simultaneously protecting against many chronic diseases and cancerous cells. MAny clinical trials including this one Engel (2010) from have found beta-carotene rich foods such as Kale improves many parameters of immune function, such as increasing the number of white blood cells and the activity of natural killer cells.
Kales is also very high in Lutein, a nutrient that suppresses inflammation. The superfood possesses high antioxidant and anti inflammatory which exerts a positive influence in promoting cardiovascular health and decreasing the risk of coronary artery disease. The beneficial cardiovascular effect in a lutein rich diet has been reported in the Atherosclerosis risk in Communities (ARIC), with Kale preventing the arterial plaque formation; fatty substances which narrow the channel within the artery which reduces blood flow. Studies by Tei, Longini and Buoncore (2016) indicates heart protection is not Kales only superfood benefit, with the plants high lutein qualities protecting the eyes from external oxidative damage, by promoting repair and suppressing inflammation and ultimately benefiting visual performance in various retinal diseases.
Maggini. S and Carr. A (2017), Vitamin C and Immune Function, US National Library of Medicine, NCBI
Kuo S.M (2013), The Interplay Between Fiber and the Inflammatory Response, Adances in Nutrition, Oxford Academic
Leech. J (2018), 10 Health Benefits of Spirulina, Heathline
DR Engel.P (2010) Beta Carotene Benefits, Nutri Facts.
Tei. M, Longini.M and Buoncore D (2016), The Multiple Facets of A Lutein, Plant- Derived Antioxidants in Disease Prevention, Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longetivity.