If you’re hoping to bypass the sniffle season, it’s time to gear up with a nourishing diet that packs a flu-fighting punch!
Each day, your immune defenses go into battle against bacteria, viruses and environmental pollutants. While it’s impossible to escape all health nasties, there is much you can do to build a robust immune system – and without question, nutrition plays a huge role.
Whole Foods: Your Best Immune Defense
Forget mega doses of supplements and instead bring your focus back to nutrient dense whole foods, those closest to their original state. Mother Nature always gets it right by providing us with powerful nutrients to fend off disease, so choose to nourish your body with minimally processed, real foods.
Top 10 Immune Boosting Foods
To get you started, here are our top 10 foods to help elevate your immunity to superhero status!
1. Green Tea
Warm up with a cup of antioxidant rich green tea to boost your number of disease fighting T cells. Sipping on tea is also an excellent way to stay hydrated, which enhances digestive function and helps flush toxins from your digestive system.
2. Avocado, Nuts & Seeds
Not only are these foods a terrific source of healthy fats that contain natural anti-inflammatory properties, they also provide a superior source of vitamin E which is essential for anti-viral defense mechanisms.
3. Prebiotic Rich Foods
70% of the immune system can be found within the gut, so it certainly pays to support good gut health. Prebiotics such as resistant starch act as fuel for healthy gut bacteria and in turn help support immune function. Foods to eat – chickpeas, bananas, barley and cooked, then cooled boiled potatoes.
4. Kiwi Fruit
Second only to guava in vitamin C content, one single kiwi provides 100% of your vitamin C needs – a powerful vitamin that can reduce the length of the common cold. Delicious on their own or used as muesli or yoghurt topper, kiwi fruit will help your immune defenses become a mighty force to be reckoned with.
The anti-bacterial properties of allicin have earned garlic the nickname of ‘nature’s penicillin’. While garlic certainly puts up a good fight against the common cold, science is yet to prove its affect on vampires – best to hold onto your silver bullets!
6. Natural Yoghurt
Rally the germ fighting troops with natural yoghurt. Teaming with probiotics (healthy bacteria), natural yoghurt will help you kick the dreaded lurgy, so you don’t become another cold and flu statistic!
7. Lean Red Meat
Protein rich foods, such as lean red meat contain impressive amounts of iron and zinc – two powerful infection-fighting minerals. If you’re inclined, enjoy a couple of palm-sized amounts of red meat each week to strengthen immune function. Tip: eat your meat alongside vitamin C rich foods such as capsicum, tomato and citrus to enhance iron absorption.
8. Chicken Soup
Grandma was right! Research has found that carnosine, a compound found in chicken soup can help during the early stages of a cold or flu by having an anti-inflammatory effect. Soup is also great for rehydration and can even help clear a blocked nose!
Why are we more likely to catch ‘the flu’ in winter? One theory suggests that with reduced sunlight exposure we can become deficient in vitamin D – an important nutrient involved in immune cell production. So, as you don the layers this winter, tuck into some delicious salmon for a food boost of vitamin D.
Jam-packed with beta-carotene, the precursor to vitamin A, carrots help bolster immune function. Cooked carrots actually contain greater amounts of beta-carotene, so throw some in a roasting tray to work some cold-fighting magic.
To be honest, the list could go on. ALL wholefoods contain unique combinations of nutrients to support good health. Remember – variety is the key to optimal immunity and well-nourished body.
1 Abishayev, M and Deyev, A. (2012). Management of the Virulent Influenza Virus Infection by Oral Formulation of Nonhydrolized Carnosine and Isopeptide of Carnosine Attenuating Proinflammatory Cytokine-Induced Nitric Oxide Production. American Journal of Therapeutics. Vol. 19 – Issue 1: pp e25-e47