Boosting your immunity isn’t just about taking extra vitamin C. It certainly pays to eat lots of fruit and veg that are packed with it, but there are many more foods you can eat to keep yourself fit over the winter months.
Foods to pack in every day:
Winter Fruit Fighters – Apples, grapes, oranges, tomatoes and seasonal berries, such as blackberries, blueberries and strawberries
Vegetable Winter Warriors – Garlic, lettuce (have all varieties to get the widest variety of different nutrients), red or green peppers, spinach and watercress
Other Winter wonders – Olive oil and wholegrains, such as wholemeal bread, pasta & Brown rice.
Foods to fit in 2-3 times a week:
Winter Fruit Fighters – Avocados, bananas, blueberries, kiwi fruits
Vegetable Winter Warriors – Alfalfa or bean sprouts, broccoli, carrots, kale, onions, parsley, potatoes
Other Winter Wonders – Chicken (skinless reduces the fat content), eggs, fish, flaxseed oil, linseeds, milk – a study has shown that organic milk has higher levels of vitamin E, omega-3 essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants than conventional milk, oats, raisins, red wine (yeehaa!), rice, soya, tea, yogurt (products containing beneficial bacteria will help to keep your gut healthy too!)
Foods to Eat Once a Week:
Winter Fruit Fighters – Grapefruit, lemon, limes – try grating unwaxed lemon or lime zest onto salads
Vegetable Winter Warriors – Cabbage, cauliflower, celery, chilli peppers, leeks, okra, peas, shiitake mushrooms, sweetcorn, sweet potatoes
Other Winter Wonders – Almonds, Brazil nuts, chocolate, green tea, lentils, quinoa – the most nutritious of all
Other easy ways to keep winter bugs at bay
Cold defender: Echinacea
Part of the daisy plant family, this herb has traditionally been used by herbalists and naturopaths for a wide range of conditions including respiratory infections. In 2007, a meta-analysis of 14 trials found Echinacea to assist in reducing both the incidence and duration of colds.
Garlic has anti-bacterial and anti-viral activity and is great for winter ills. A 12-week, placebo-controlled, double-blind study published in 2001, found garlic preparations to reduce the incidence of colds and for those with colds, improve recovery time and lessen the chance of a second infection
Throat protection: Thyme
Traditionally used topically, for example as a gargle, in the treatment of respiratory infections such as laryngitis and tonsillitis
Chill zapper: Ginger
Another common ingredient in the kitchen, ginger has demonstrated anti-microbial activity against infection and as a circulatory stimulant is an excellent warming herb against the winter chills
Now let’s get practical about ways to increase your intake of these immune supportive goodies.
Morning’s Made Easy
• In the morning, a warming oat porridge with a berry compote and a sprinkling of LSA (linseeds, sunflower seeds and almonds) will provide a good serve of vitamin C and zinc
Let your kitchen be your pharmacy during the winter months and boost your immunity to ward of the winter bugs
Soups are an excellent, nutrient-dense way to increase your intake of nutrients such as betacarotene and vitamin C. You can also use culinary herbs for medicinal benefit
pumpkin and sweet potato soup with thyme and garlic or carrot and ginger soup
red lentil soup with carrot & pepper
try the spicy bean soup from our recipes page – a great winter warmer!
These teas are an excellent inclusion in a winter diet. Consider echinacea, ginger, thyme or licorice (another expectorant herb which can also soothe an irritated throat). For therapeutic purposes, one cup three times a day is ideal. Add a small amount honey to sweeten if desired.
Stay warm, keep active & eat well this winter!