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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The nutrition rainbow
Article Type: Food facts From: Nutrition & Food Science, Volume 41, Issue 3
Winter is a time to bolster the immune systems in the fight against flu and colds. Adequately feeding your immune system boosts its fighting power. Immune boosters work in many ways. They increase the number of white cells in the immune system army, train them to fight better, and help them form an overall better battle plan. The nutrition rainbow for immunity will give you an immune fighting food in each colour of the rainbow (plus a few extras).
Red – lean beef-lean meat is surprisingly good for the immune system as it contains zinc and iron plus all the essential amino acids, all of which go together to make healthy blood cells and a strong immune system. The key is moderation, and avoiding fatty cuts of meat and not frying the meat or letting it burn.
Orange – butternut squash or pumpkin – both are good sources of beta carotene, which increases the number of infection fighting cells, as well as being a powerful antioxidant that mops up excess free radicals that accelerate aging.
Yellow – ginger a warming root has been revered as a therapeutic food for centuries and medieval Europeans traced the herb to the Garden of Eden. As well as being an effective anti-nausea agent, ginger contains the active ingredients gingerols and shogaols, which can have an anti-inflammatory effect which may ease colds and flu.
Green – kiwi fruit/broccoli/Brussels sprouts – all three of these are great sources of Vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells and antibodies and increases levels of interferon, the antibody that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses.
Blue – blueberries are a powerhouse of nutritional goodness. Blueberries are bursting with antioxidants including vitamin C, anthocyanins, quercetin and ellagic acid, which can help protect the cells against disease. Blueberries are high in fibre and contain pectin, a source of soluble fibre which can help both diarrhoea and constipation – good digestive health is the cornerstone of a healthy immune system.
Pink – Salmon with omega three fatty acids in fatty fish which act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells. Essential fatty acids can also have an anti-inflammatory effect if eaten as part of a balanced diet.
Purple – beetroot – starting the day with a glass of beetroot juice could do wonders for your immune system. Beetroot is rich in vitamin C and also folic acid, which is essential for healing and making new blood cells.
White – garlic – a flavourful member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster that stimulates the multiplication of infection-fighting white cells, boosts natural killer cell activity and increases the efficiency of antibody production. The immune-boosting properties of garlic seem to be due to its sulphur-containing compounds, such as allicin and sulphides. Garlic can also act as an antioxidant that reduces the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream.
The Institute for Optimum Nutrition (ION) is an independent, not for profit educational charity whose purposes are to advance education of the public and health professionals in all matters relating to nutrition and to preserve and protect the health of the general public by giving advice, assistance and where necessary treatment through nutritional therapy.