‘Tis the season- for colds and sneezin’
As the weather begins to get colder, your immune system is weakened, people are more prone to sore throats and runny noses. The cold and flu season generally begins in September, it can last right through to April and we all usually experience the nasty symptoms at least once during this period.
This year, make sure you include plenty of immune boosting foods in your diet to help ward off colds and flu’s. We’ve put together a simple list of your top 10 go to foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals essential to keep you feeling fit and healthy throughout flu season.
1. Citrus Fruits are a must have in your diet if you want to stay clear winter flu’s. These fruits are rich in Vitamin C which is essential for boosting your immune system and fighting off colds and infections. Vitamin C has the added benefit of contributing to normal collagen formation, which helps promote healthy glowing skin. Citrus fruits include oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons and limes. Why not add a piece of grapefruit to your daily breakfast routine, snack on and orange throughout the day or infuse your water with lemon and lime.
2. We all know vegetables need to be eaten on a daily basis, but did you know, certain vegetables are particularly good for your immune health? Green, orange and yellow vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals essential for boosting your immune health. These vegetables provide a source of beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A within your body. Beta-Carotene supports the normal function of our immune system while Vitamin A promotes the health of our digestive tract lining. This is essential for protecting our bodies against colds and flu’s as it acts as a barrier to infections. Carrot, sweet potato, kale, asparagus, spinach are all great examples and can be included in your diet daily through, soups, stir-fries, stews, casseroles or smoothies.
3. Turmeric has seen a huge increase in popularity over the last number of years. The active ingredient Curcumin is well known for its anti inflammatory, antioxidant and antibacterial properties. Curcumin also helps support the maintenance of a healthy digestive system and detoxifies the liver. There are lots of ways to include turmeric in your diet and support your immune system. Try having a cup of turmeric tea daily, adding it to your curries and using it to season roasted vegetables.
4. Ginger is a well known remedy for cramping, nausea and travel sickness. It’s also a great ingredient for boosting our immune systems due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. Use it as a spice and add to your stir-fries, add a knob of fresh ginger root to your smoothies or sip a cup of ginger tea in the mornings. Why not combine ginger and turmeric to give your immune system the extra defense boost!
5. Garlic can do a lot more than add aroma and taste to your favourite dish as its nutritional benefits are countless. The active ingredient Allicin, protects the body from infections and disease while also supporting a healthy heart and reducing cholesterol. It has a decongestant action as it relieves congestion of the upper respiratory tract. Garlic also supports healthy glowing skin by slowing down the depletion of collagen and protecting our skin from the effect of free radicals. To avoid catching colds, the flu and common infections, try adding garlic to stews, casseroles, stir-fries and soups.
6. Pineapple contains an enzyme called Bromelain which aids the digestion of protein and allows your body to utilize immune boosting amino acids effectively. Pineapple is also well known for its anti- inflammatory properties which can help heal sore throats. Its decongestant action can help relieve congestion in someone suffering with a cold. Pineapple can make a sweet addition to smoothies, or why not add it to some yogurt that is rich in probiotics for that extra defense boost!
7. Wheatgrass is a nutrient dense food, packed with chlorophyll, beta carotene, Vitamin C, Vitamin B Complex, Amino Acids, Calcium, Potassium and Magnesium. Wheatgrass is chock full with nutritional benefits including liver support and immune function as it helps boost the livers ability to flush out toxins and cleanse the body. Wheatgrass is also great for balancing blood pH and promoting healthy, radiant skin. You can buy fresh Wheatgrass and juice it, or buy the powdered form and add it to your water or smoothies.
8. Berries are a rich source of Vitamin C, antioxidants and polyphenols. Vitamin C is well known for its immune boosting properties, while antioxidants and polyphenols play a role in fighting cancer and other chronic diseases. Berries add great colour and a sweet taste to many dishes. Try adding them to your crumbles, muffins, yogurts and smoothies to reap their nutritional benefits. Or you can stew your berries and serve them with some yogurt rich in probiotics!
9. Probiotic Yogurts contain live bacteria that are good for your health, especially your digestive system as they help keep your gut healthy. The live and active cultures may stimulate your immune system and help fight illnesses. Serve it with some warm stewed fruit to boost your Vitamin C intake or some mixed seeds to boost your Zinc intake.
10. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of Zinc which is a mineral well known for supporting a strong and healthy immune system. Zinc has also become popular for the treatment of colds and flus as research suggests it may help reduce the duration of an infection due to its healing properties. Pumpkin seeds can be eaten on their own as a snack, or add them to stir-fries, salads, smoothies or yogurts. Check out Good4U’s Healthy Snack Range which are a great source of pumpkin seeds.
Try to include some of these foods in your diet on a daily basis to help keep your immune system strong and healthy.
Bye for now…
Emma Brennan is a qualified Nutritionist and is a registered member of the Association for Nutrition (AFN). Emma attained her qualification in Human Nutrition from Ulster University, Coleraine. Emma has a passion for all things nutrition and health related and her mission is to educate the public about their health and wellbeing through her blogs, videos and nutrition tips online and through the Good4U Nutrition Service provided to schools, sports clubs and businesses.