Quercetin to the Olive Leaf: 10 Ingredients Offering Benefits to Immune Health
In times when viruses and pathogens are on the rise, taking care of our immune health has never been more important. As understanding the benefits of nutrients like vitamin C, quercetin and zinc is just the beginning when it comes to supporting your immunity, we have compiled a list of some of the best ingredients and supplements to add to your daily habits this season.
What is the Immune System & How Can We Support It?
Made up of a variety of defences, including the skin, mucus linings, enzymes, and more , our immune system is vital to our overall health. Each day, we are exposed to a variety of potentially harmful microbes, and it is down to our immune system to protect us by recognising bacteria, viruses, and parasites and creating the appropriate response . To ensure this system continues to optimally function, we can increase our intake of properties like quercetin and zinc, plus certain vitamins and minerals found in foods like olive leaf and citrus fruits. Incorporating these into our daily habits can help us improve our overall health and wellbeing.
1. Citrus Fruits
Increasing your intake of vitamin C is a well-known remedy to stave off a cold or help improve symptoms. Found in a variety of citrus fruits, vitamin C is thought to be connected to the increased production of white blood cells, which are essential to a well-functioning immune system . By eating more fruits like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, it is easy to increase your intake of vitamin C each day!
Another excellent source of vitamin C, broccoli is a vegetable packed with essential vitamins and minerals to support your immune system. Rich in vitamins A and E, as well as fibre, quercetin, and antioxidants, broccoli is one of the best foods to fortify your immune health .
3. Olive Leaf
The many benefits of the olive leaf include anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects that support a healthy immune system . A staple of the Mediterranean diet, research has shown that eating olive leaf can lower the rates of illness with its powerful, health-boosting benefits .
Another old remedy for illness, ginger has been shown to reduce inflammation and related illnesses, like a sore throat or even nausea . With benefits similar to the olive leaf, ginger is also high in cholesterol-lowering properties, making it a popular choice for those looking to improve their immunity .
Like broccoli, spinach is another green vegetable high in vitamin C and antioxidants which are thought to increase the effectiveness of our immune systems . Rich in vitamins and minerals, this is a versatile vegetable that can provide a variety of health benefits.
6. Green Tea
Packed with an antioxidant known as EGCG , Green Tea has been shown to enhance immune function and is often recommended for those recovering from a cold or related illness. It is also an excellent source of quercetin, used for the treatment and prevention of infections in the body .
Nuts like almonds, hazelnuts, and peanuts are high in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant capable of helping your body fight off infection . Nuts are also a terrific source of quercetin which offers benefits in the form of reduced risk of infection .
8. Prebiotic & Probiotic Foods
Maintaining a balance of good gut bacteria supports the proper function of immune cells . Including foods like yogurt, fermented vegetables, onions, garlic, bananas, and seaweeds in your diet can help to provide the body with essential fibres that support the growth of beneficial microbes in the gut [1,4]. These food types also contain a variety of beta-glucans, believed to hold a variety of immune-boosting properties3.
Turmeric is a popular ingredient for those seeking a variety of health benefits from their diet. High in concentrations of curcumin, turmeric is being connected with immune booster benefits .
Not an obvious choice for immune health, but shellfish are high in zinc, which is essential for our cells to function properly. Oysters, crab, lobster, and mussels are all particularly rich in zinc and other minerals to help build better immunity . With this in mind, too much zinc can also impair immune system function, so it is important to remain balanced within the daily recommended amount of 8-11mg of zinc for adults .
Take Charge of Your Immune Health with Daily Habits
Incorporating small wins in your daily habits can lead to big change over time. Our immune health is improved with healthy habits, regular sleep and rest, exercise and a well-balanced diet with the right vitamins and minerals.
Simple actions like adding citrus fruits to your water, eating more greens and maintaining gut health through food all play a big part in boosting your immune health. .
- Harvard T.H. Chan. (2021) “The Nutrition Source” https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/nutrition-and-immunity/#:~:text=Each%20stage%20of%20the%20body's,including%20the%20amino%20acid%20glutamine). (Accessed 25 June 2022)
- WebMD (2022) “Health Benefits of Olive Leaf Extract” https://www.webmd.com/diet/health-benefits-olive-leaf-extract#1 (accessed 25 June 2022)
- Miller, K. (2021) “Beta-Glucans”, https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/beta-glucans-uses-and-risks#091e9c5e80c0adab-1-2 (accessed 25 June 2022)
- Schend, J. (2020) “15 Foods That Boost the Immune System” https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#citrus-fruits (accessed June 25, 2022)
- Health Essentials (2020) “8 Vitamins & Minerals You Need for a Healthy Immune System” https://health.clevelandclinic.org/eat-these-foods-to-boost-your-immune-system/ (accessed June 25, 2022)
- Yao, L. et. Al. (2016) “Quercetin, Inflammation and Immunity” https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4808895/ (accessed June 25, 2022)