Winter is well and truly here, and with the cold weather comes a higher chance of coming down with something. Cold and Flu symptoms are showing up around the office, and the kids are coming home from school with the sniffles.
About 70% of your immune system is housed in your stomach, so what you eat and drink will have a huge impact on your overall health. We’ve put together a list of the 10 best foods to boost your immune system and suggested ways to enjoy them - take a look at how these will help keep you healthy this winter season.
For a lot of people, Vitamin C is the first thing that comes to mind for building a healthy immune system, especially when they start to feel under the weather. Citrus fruit is well known for being rich in vitamin C, and can help produce white blood cells, which fight off bacterial infections.
Serving suggestion: To enjoy the benefits of citrus, eat fresh oranges or grapefruit, or squeeze some lemon juice into your water in the morning for a zesty start to the day.
Blueberries are also a great option for boosting your body’s defence system. They contain a flavonoid called Anthocyanin which not only has antioxidant properties, but also gives blueberries their beautiful colour. Blueberries have been shown to protect against heart disease, and can also improve your mental health.
Serving suggestion: Start your day with this smoothie for an easy antioxidant boost with blueberries.
Often acknowledged as a “super food”, spinach contains a variety of nutrients to help support the immune system. With Folate, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, fiber, magnesium and iron, it’s no surprise that this leafy green is a key player in maintaining overall health. Eat spinach raw or cook it as little as possible to enjoy it’s many benefits.
Serving suggestion: Try sprinkling a handful of Spinach into your next salad or smoothie to keep all those nutrients in.
Almonds contain a healthy amount of Vitamin E, which is a powerful fat-soluble antioxidant. Being fat-soluble means it needs the presence of fat to be properly absorbed by the body. Nuts like almonds contain both Vitamin E and healthy fats, creating the perfect combo to effectively boost your immune system.
Serving suggestion: Adults need about 15mg of Vitamin E per day, which is around half a cup of almonds to get 100% of your recommended daily intake.
Broccoli is packed with Vitamins A, C, and E, along with other essential minerals and antioxidants, making it one of the healthiest vegetables you can add to the shopping list. Broccoli also contains the potent antioxidant glutathione, which helps your body combat oxidative stress.
Serving suggestion: Try steaming broccoli to keep all of these nutrients locked in.
Ginger is another popular food when it comes to fighting off cold and flu symptoms brought on by the colder months. That’s because ginger not only contains powerful antioxidants to fight against damage caused by free radicals, but also helps to ease nausea. Ginger can relieve the symptoms of a sore throat, as well as other inflammatory illnesses.
Serving suggestion: If you feel a cold coming on, try making lemon, honey and ginger tea. Simply grate some ginger into your favourite mug with a teaspoon of honey and a squeeze of lemon, top with hot water and you’re good to go.
7. Green tea/ Matcha
Tea in general has been known to support the immune system thanks to the antioxidants present in black, green and white tea. However, green tea stands out because it contains EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate), another powerful antioxidant that is more potent in green tea. This is because green tea is often steamed, whereas black tea is usually fermented, taking out some of the EGCG.
Serving suggestion: enjoy a hot cup of green tea as it is, or get some matcha powder and make your own matcha latte at home!
Turmeric is often used in indian cuisine and you’ll probably recognise it’s bright yellow colour. This fragrant spice contains Circumin, which is a powerful anti-inflammatory that is said to fight the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Circumin may also decrease exercise-induced muscle damage, which is that tight feeling you get in your muscles a day or two after a workout.
One thing to note about Turmeric is that it can easily stain carpet if it’s left alone for too long - after all, it’s known for being used as a natural dye! If you do happen to get Turmeric on the carpet, try using the Rug Doctor Stain Remover to lift any colour out.
Serving suggestion: Check out this delicious Turmeric Chicken recipe to get some of this golden ingredient into your diet.
9. Sweet potato/ Kumara
Sweet potato or Kumara is a great source of Beta Carotene which our body turns into vitamin A. One medium sweet potato can contain up to 120% of your daily Vitamin A intake, which is highly beneficial for immune function and skin health. Sweet potato is also cholesterol and fat free, while holding a good amount of fiber to support digestion.
Serving suggestion: Try this recipe for crunchy kumara fries to get your daily kumara needs.
Probiotics are good bacteria, or live microorganisms, present in certain foods. They help to support a healthy immune system, as well as aid in digestion, and help your body absorb other nutrients. Probiotics can be found in things like greek yogurt and fermented foods, such as kimchi, sauerkraut, miso and kombucha. Even sourdough bread contains healthy probiotics thanks to the fermentation of the yeast.
Serving suggestion: add greek yoghurt to your morning smoothie or breakfast bowl, or grab a cup of hot miso soup the next time you're getting sushi for lunch!
Adding these immune boosting foods into your diet will strengthen your body’s defense system, and help to keep you and your family healthy this winter.
If you need some more information about how to effectively remove stains from foods like turmeric and blueberries, take a look at our Stain Removal Guide today!