Can food boost your immune system? When winter or flu season hits, it’s something a lot of people start to wonder while reaching for the citrus fruits and chicken soup. Truth is, the body’s immune system is a complex character, and can be influenced by many factors – not just what we eat. The secret is a balanced and varied diet, to ensure we enjoy a wide range of vitamins and minerals, plus lifestyle aspects such as getting enough sleep, regular exercise and so on. The following immunity boosting foods can certainly help you on your way to striking a balance… and it helps that the dishes they feature in are all delicious!
Associated with several health benefits, turmeric is best recognised for its powerful natural anti-inflammatory properties. Its bioactive ingredient curcumin – the vibrant yellow pigment – is said to help reduce levels of pro-inflammatory compounds released by our bodies’ cells. Regardless of what the scientists say, it makes a darn good curry. Try it in these dishes:
Typically, this dish uses the previous night’s rice and turns it into magical breakfast fare. And the spices used – including immunity-boosting turmeric – take it to new heights. Move over, cereal.
Whenever I visit Hanoi, I always make a beeline for one of the renowned cha ca restaurants to enjoy the famous turmeric grilled fish topped with fresh herbs. It’s so light and flavoursome… which is exactly why I’ve made my own 30-minute version of the dish so you can enjoy it yourself.
If you can’t get hold of my Marion’s Kitchen Balinese Coconut Turmeric Marinade where you are, don’t panic: this recipe is exactly what’s in the bottled version! Full of aromatic spices and gorgeous flavours, it will bring next-level epicness and colour to your meat or tofu.
Ginger belongs to the same family as turmeric, and is widely used in South-east Asian, Chinese and Indian cuisines. And it’s believed to have lots of health benefits. In fact, according to several studies, ginger may help lower blood pressure, manage cholesterol levels and enhance immune function! Try the wonder root in the following Marion’s Kitchen recipes:
Delicious, salty fried chicken gets up close to vibrant Sichuan peppercorns, hot and fiery chillies, and lots of warming ginger.
Enjoy super-tender beef, mighty mushrooms and spicy strips of ginger in this popular stir-fry of mine. Serve with steamed rice or fresh noodles to turn into a more filling meal.
This is one fish dish that makes you sit up and take note. It’s spicy, tingly and absolutely full of gusto (and immunity boosting foods!). Definitely one for fans of heat.
One of my favourite foods to boost immunity: garlic! As for its benefits, garlic has long been used for antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal purposes. Some believe it may help protect the body from viruses and other nasties by boosting the immune system; some like it for its amazing flavour properties. Either way, try it in these garlic-packed recipes…
It doesn’t get more garlicky than this! Fragrant, sweet, spicy, crunchy, juicy… these prawns really are all the things.
This dish combines three really big hitters in terms of flavours: garlic, coriander root and sriracha. The chicken is cut into bite-sized pieces for really speedy cooking, with some crispy fried garlic added for an extra flavour punch at the end.
Garlic, butter, eggs… and cheese? Yep, you heard me – it’s an unusual addition to a fried rice recipe, but boy does it taste good. Extra points for containing one of our immunity boosting foods!
If you’re feeling under the weather, soups are a great way to up your water intake and hydration levels, plus are a bit easier on the digestive system than heavier dishes. This one contains garlic, ginger AND turmeric (result!), as well as brassica vegetables (rich in vitamin C) to help increase iron absorption. The chicken thighs featured in this recipe are also a valuable source of zinc, a mineral that helps support a healthy immune system.
This beef stew is full of goodness and immunity-boosting ingredients, such as ginger, garlic and sweet potato. It’s a feelgood recipe I love to make when I’m feeling a bit under the weather (or hungover!). Make it at the weekend then enjoy throughout the week. As extra pluses, the beef is rich in iron and the tomato passata has lovely lycopenes, which have antioxidant properties.