Sniffle season is well and truly here! Nutrition plays a crucial role in building a healthy immune system to give you the best chance to fight off nasty bugs and that dreaded winter cold & flu. Here’s our top scientifically proven immune boosting foods:
Eat fermented vegetables and dairy foods
Fermented vegetables and dairy products contain living bacteria that boost immune health. How? Well did you know roughly 70% of your body’s immunity comes from your gut? Building a healthy army of bacteria in your intestine will help you fight off bugs more strongly.
We suggest always going for food first before considering supplements. Eat more natural or greek yoghurt, fermented milk drinks (such as Yakult and Kefir), kimchi and sauerkraut, tempeh and miso. If you’ve never heard of kimchi or sauerkraut before they are both made from fermented cabbage, one is traditionally Korean whilst the latter originates from central Europe.
How to eat them:
Natural or greek yoghurt with oats for breakfast or as a snack.
Add fermented milk drinks (such as Yakult and Kefir) to smoothies.
Use tempeh as protein in stir-fries and start meals with a bowl of miso soup.
Top salads or fried rice with kimchi
Serve sauerkraut with roast meat & vegetables or with scrambled eggs.
Garlic has been used for centuries as an immune booster in numerous cultures. We have a client who eats a clove of raw garlic everyday and he swears he never gets sick! There is some science behind his ritual because garlic’s sulphuric compounds have been seen to reduce bacteria and infection.
It is important to know that garlic tablets or supplements will not offer the same effects of the sulphuric compounds in fresh garlic. It is believed that these benefits are highest in raw garlic, as heating can reduce its antibiotic effects.
How to eat garlic?
If you can manage to slip some raw garlic into your day then that seems to have the biggest immune benefit.
Try a warm tea with a little crushed garlic, lemon & honey,
Rub some fresh garlic & olive oil onto your toast
If that isn’t for you try adding it in curries, casseroles, stir fries or roast vegetables.
Eat at least 5 different coloured vegetables and 2 fruit per day
The rich variety of micronutrients in fruit and vegetables is what your immune system needs to keep it running in premium condition, think of them like good quality petrol. Some of the stars include Vitamin C, vitamin A, folate and selenium.
There are over 400 pigments in fresh fruit and vegetables, each of them offer different health benefits and are present with unique chemical structures that cannot be replicated in a tablet form. Mother Nature was a talented lady! It is a myth that you need supplements to meet your Micronutrient requirements; take a look below:
1 kiwifruit (70g) = 107% Vitamin C RDI
1 carrot (50g) = 157% Vitamin A RDI
Fruit and veggies are also low in energy (kilojoules/calories) so they really help in maintaining a healthy weight – another big part of staying healthy.
MYTH BUST: Vitamin C won’t prevent a cold! Research has shown that additional Vitamin C supplementation can reduce the duration and severity of symptoms. So if you are already sick, try eating red, orange, dark green vegetables and dark purple fruits and vegetables. Some of our favourites include purple cabbage, pumpkin and silverbeet.
How to get enough vitamin C from food?
Eat two kiwifruit and two mandarins per day – they are both in season now and high in vitamin C.
Make a big batch of vegetable soup to start meals or eat for lunch with a crusty wholegrain roll and spread of hummus.
Choose three different coloured vegetables to serve at dinner. Stir fries are a great way to eat the rainbow!
Eat lean red meat, oysters and chickpeas
These foods are rich in zinc, a mineral known to be crucial to good immunity. Why? Zinc is needed to create strong white blood cells that detect and fight off pathogens when they enter your body. Zinc is also an antioxidant and can stabilise cell membranes making them less likely to be affected by foreign invaders like germs and bugs.
How to eat them:
Try a roast leg of lamb or beef up to 3 timers per week and use leftovers on salads or sandwiches for lunch
Oysters served natural or with a dash of salt reduced soy and fresh coriander as an entrée
Add chickpeas to curries or casseroles to give you a dose of zinc as well as fibre.
Eat nuts, seeds and broccoli
Nuts, seeds and dark green vegetables are good sources of Vitamin E. There is evidence that extra vitamin E beyond the RDI may increase immune function.
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant preventing cells from being damaged and protecting against disease.
How to eat them:
Swap butter on your toast to 1 tbls natural almond or cashew spread
Snack on ¼ cup of nuts in the afternoon (not ¼ of a packet!)
Chomp on steamed broccoli trees with hummus, add them to a frittata or try
a broccoli soup.
There is a lot a fantastic diet can do to improve your immunity. Come and get you evidence based advice to power you through winter at Body Fusion, we’d love to meet you!
Stay warm, eat well and keep moving.
Kat and Ash