Foods That Boost Immune System

Foods for immunity: lemon, garlic, honey, aloe vera

March 24th is World Tuberculosis (TB) Day, and increasingly, it’s a worry.

Until ten years ago, we knew TB only through Victorian novels. But “Consumption” was rampant once in Europe and America. It spread like wildfire through overcrowded, impoverished cities.

And then, for a time, we heard almost nothing about it. Antibiotics dealt a knock-out blow to one of humanity’s oldest diseases.

But antibiotic-resistant strains of TB are on the rise, and scientists foretell a pandemic. The bug has evolved. In the West, we’re again vulnerable to an illness that was all but relegated to the poorest parts of the world.

There, the threat never went away. TB exploits weakened immunity: the malnourished, those living with HIV/AIDS, children, the elderly and homeless. Nearly everyone we work with through Organics 4 Orphans falls into one of these categories.

In Africa, you can experience first-hand what it’s like to live without antibiotics. Even if you can afford the medicine, chances are the packet of pills you pay for are actually counterfeit, containing either no antibiotics, or just enough to teach the bug resistance.

A global future with untreatable TB is scary. We’re optimistic, though, because we know that preventing TB is easier than treating the disease.

Nutrition is key to immunity. In Africa, many of the poor subsist on one or two simple meals of a low-nutrient starch food daily. Ugali or cornmeal, for example, contains calories, but few of the micro-nutrients needed to build resilience.

Our Organics 4 Orphans gardening program is all about growing plant foods that build immunity. We’re obsessive on that point. The plants we include in our curriculum are the superfoods, effective at fighting bacterial, viral and fungal infections.

These are our Top 9 Immunity Foods, based on extensive research by our partners at Anamed International.

1. Garlic

Consume raw garlic as often as possible, soon after cutting the clove. Strong acids, like vinegar or citrus destroy some of the healing enzymes, so if you use garlic raw in a marinade or dressing, be advised. If you experience gastric irritation, take raw garlic with a small amount of oil, to coat the stomach lining.

2. Aloe vera

Cut large leaf of aloe and scoop the gel with a spoon. Take one or two tablespoonfuls of aloe gel every day, preferably on an empty stomach.

3. Artemisia annua

Look for teas made of artemisia annua or Qing Hao, as this powerful plant is known in traditional Chinese medicine. Consume daily.

4. Azadirachta indica (neem)

Look for neem tea in health stores. In Africa, we make a powder of the fresh leaves, which grow in tropical climates.

5. Lemon

Drink the juice of one lemon every day, either in warm water or on food. Vitamin C is heat-sensitive, so avoid adding fresh lemon to hot water or piping hot dishes.

6. Lemongrass

Prepare lemon grass tea by boiling one handful of fresh leaves in one litre of water for two minutes, then allowing the tea to steep for 15 minutes. Pour the tea through a sieve before serving.

7. Moringa oleifera

Take one heaping teaspoonful of moringa leaf powder with each meal. Our SuperLeaf Moringa products are sourced from a certified organic farm in Nicaragua.

8. Amaranth

Use amaranth seeds as you would quinoa, and look for it in health food stores. Replace a serving of less nutritious rice or pasta with amaranth, or prepare it as a warm cereal, like oatmeal.

9. Natural bee products

While not technically a plant food, this one is too good to skip. Propolis is a natural disinfectant produced by bees. It’s a resinous substance that bees gather from leaf buds and transform into a sort of sealant and disinfectant for the hive. In Africa, we recommend propolis raw, as well as raw, locally-sourced honey and bee pollen. Propolis tinctures are available in Canada from natural health stores.

TB is a big, systemic problem, but we’re taking a grassroots approach, building immunity garden by garden.

Whether you have a garden or not, try integrating these 9 immunity-boosters into your daily diet. Because prevention is the very best medicine!

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