Foods to help boost your immune system this winter
It’s getting to that time of year where everybody gets a bit run down with a winter cold; runny noses, feeling bunged up and having a croaky voice just seem to come naturally at this time of year!
However, nobody likes feeling this way and, in a year where we also have coronavirus on our minds, there are steps we can take to keep the dreaded winter cold at bay.
Perhaps the best way to do this is to give your immune system a little boost at this time of year by adopting a slight change in diet. By adding a few vitamin-rich foods into your day-to-day eating habits, you can make a great difference to your immune system function, ensuring it can handle everything the world throws at it!
Citrus fruits are brilliant foods to give you a little lift when you’re feeling run down this winter. Almost all citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which is a natural antioxidant containing antibacterial and antiviral properties. Not only that, but vitamin C is also thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which help to fight infections.
The recommended daily amount of vitamin C is 75mg for women and 90mg for men, and just one medium sized orange contains more than that! But oranges aren’t your only options- grapefruits, lemons and limes are also part of the citrus fruit family so be sure to experiment with these too.
Of course, you probably won’t want to eat a lemon or a lime on its own, so try squeezing the juice into food or have a slice in your drink of water. Every little helps when it comes to getting those vitamin C levels up.
Mushrooms, especially button mushrooms and Reishi mushrooms, contain powerful compounds that enhance your body’s ability to fight disease and stay healthy. They are also high in selenium, an antioxidant, and B vitamins such as riboflavin and niacin.
When it comes to giving your immune system a helping hand, mushrooms are also great because they contain polysaccharides (sugar-like molecules) which boost immune function and destroy infections.
It’s very easy to introduce mushrooms into your winter diet, as they are very versatile and can be cooked with almost anything. Try adding them to a spaghetti Bolognese or winter casserole, or even with your full English breakfast- the possibilities are endless!
Blueberries are a superfood, which is term used for foods which have multiple health benefits due to their exceptional nutrient density. Blueberries contain plenty of vitamins such as vitamin C and A and are also believed to have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables.
Not only that, but they also contain flavonoids which are a type of antioxidant that can help reduce damage to cells and boost your immune system. A 2016 study also showed that flavonoids play an important role in the respiratory tract’s immune defence system, so blueberries are great for fighting off coughs!
Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat as it’s packed with minerals, contains vitamins K, A, C and E, and is full of fibre. All of these have antioxidant properties so help to protect your body against free radicals, which damage the growth, development and survival of cells in the body.
When it comes to cooking broccoli, research has shown that steaming is the best way to retain all the nutrients, as well as making sure that you cook it as little as possible. If you don’t usually eat broccoli and want to include it in your diet, it makes a great addition to almost any hot meal; roast dinners, pasta bakes, casseroles, curries, you name it.
Will you be adding any of these nutrient-rich foods to your diet this winter?