In these cooler months, it’s important we gear our bodies up with the immunity-boosting foods we need to fend off those nasty colds and flu. Whilst there is no silver bullet to preventing colds and flu, eating a nutritious diet that includes a range of foods from all five food groups, adequate fruits and vegetables and a nice dose of natural ‘immune boosters’, should certainly help to boost our immunity! Here are our top 9 picks when it comes to staying well this winter:
Ginger has been used medicinally for hundreds of years and has a range of anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. It is rich in several phytonutrients (“phyto” meaning plant) and is high in antioxidants and hence is known to improve immunity. Including ginger regularly in your diet is an excellent way to stay on top of your health this winter.
Tip: Try adding ginger to teas, soups, and stir-fries.
Broccoli has an excellent nutrient profile, it is high in vitamin C and E, is a good source of zinc and has a whole host of phytochemicals, thought to help us fight cancers and heart disease.
Tip: When you buy broccoli from the supermarkets it should be firm, bright green and slightly crisp. The best way to cook broccoli to ensure we preserve its wonderful nutrient profile is to steam, microwave or stir-fry it.
3. Red Capsicum
It’s not only oranges that are high in Vitamin C, capsicums are too! Vitamin C plays a role in supporting optimal immune functioning by helping our bodies cells attack bacteria and viruses, therefore helping our bodies fight off colds and flu.
Tip: Capsicum sticks with hummus is a great snack to have at work. You can also include capsicum in hearty soups or use it to add flavour to your bolognese and salads.
These pungent cloves have the ability to do more than just add flavour to your food. Garlic has potent antibacterial and antioxidant effects, meaning it may help fend off bacteria and viruses. In fact, The World Health Organisation recommends we eat a clove of garlic a day for general health!
Tip: Garlic is best used as a preventative measure, so try adding it to your meals before you get sick!
5. Citrus Fruits
Citrus fruits (oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruits) contain a powerhouse of nutrients and are known to be particularly high in vitamin C, a key nutrient involved in fighting infection. Because your body doesn’t produce or store Vitamin C, a daily dose is recommended for optimal health.
Tip: Enjoy a lemon and ginger tea, use citrus fruits as salad dressings, add them to cooking for an acidic flavour or even enjoy a fresh orange as a snack (you’ll need a napkin!).
Yoghurt is an excellent source of good quality protein, is rich in calcium and also contains a range of B group vitamins. Yoghurt also contains beneficial bacteria, known as probiotic bacteria, which have the potential to increase the number of good bacteria in your gut and minimise the growth of bad bacteria. Having this good balance of gut bacteria helps to build a strong immune system, meaning fewer colds and flu.
Tip: Your best choices of yoghurts are natural yoghurts with live cultures of probiotics that are high in protein. Add fresh fruit to your yoghurt for more flavour
Oily fish (including salmon, tuna and mackerel) are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, which is suggested to help reduce harmful inflammation throughout the body. Chronic inflammation may prevent the immune system from functioning optimally, meaning you may be more likely to catch colds and flu.
Tip: By ensuring you include fish in your diet 2-3 times a week, you can up your intake of omega 3 and help fend off colds and flu
Nuts are full of antioxidants and vitamins, helping to give our immune systems the support they need. Nuts are particularly high in Vitamin E, which is a key vitamin needed for a healthy immune system.
Tip: Opt for unsalted nuts and remember that even though nuts are high in the ‘healthy’ unsaturated fats – we only want a handful (30g) a day!
We all know a steaming hot cuppa tea certainly helps to soothe a sore throat and relax the mind, however, the benefits may indeed run deeper. Tea contains a group of antioxidants known as catechins, which may have immunity-boosting properties.
Tip: Green tea is a rich source of flavonoids (potent plant antioxidants), a compound known to significantly reduce the risk of catching a cold.
Eating the right foods is a great way to boost your immunity this winter and we recommend trying to include as many of these foods in your diet each day. On top of these, it’s important to be active every day (the cold is no excuse!), sleep well and drink plenty of water in order to maintain a strong immune system and avoid getting sick.