From time to time we are reminded to eat this nutrient and that nutrient through various newspaper and magazine articles or indeed some latest programme targeting weight loss. According to the latest Diet and Nutrition Survey – which only provides a snapshot of the nation’s eating habits mind you – some nutrients missing from both adults and children diets include vitamin A, vitamin D, selenium, and zinc. In women, calcium and iron are noticeably missing too. That’s all very well hear you say, but how the hell are you supposed to remember which nutrients your lacking and where to get them from? Now instead of popping pills (attention – I’m talking a daily vitamin variety 🙂 ) there’s a much better way of ensuring you are getting all the right stuff to help you function properly. And that my friends is choosing a colourful combination of foods that resemble the rainbow. It really couldn’t be easier! I stumbled across an article that highlighted it really well so I’ve picked out the foods that they mentioned and have laid them bare for you here.
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
This 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 the symptoms of 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
These delicious little berries 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.
The omega 3 fatty acids in fatty fish act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes, the white blood cells that eat up bacteria. 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, as well as keeping your brain sharp and your heart in good shape. Beetroot is rich in vitamin C and also folic acid, which is essential for healing and making new blood cells.
White – Garlic
This 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.
Brown – walnuts
OK, so brown is not normally a colour that you would associate with the rainbow, but it’s good to mention the disease fighting potential of vitamin E, which is found in nuts, particularly walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds.
It’s childs play and it’s great way of seeign the brighter side of life isn’t it?!