Immune boosting foods to fortify your body for winter
Published: March 13, 2023 Last Updated: March 13, 2023
The onset of cold and flu season here in Australia is a daunting prospect but, if we want to stay healthy, there are many everyday habits we can adopt to keep our immune system functioning optimally throughout winter.
A major way to do this is through our food intake; what we put into our bodies can have a huge impact on how well our immune system functions. Eating foods rich in nutrients such as fruits, vegetables, grains and healthy fats helps ensure you’re loaded up on essential vitamins and minerals that your body needs for optimal health, especially during these cold months.
So be sure to pay attention to what goes on your plate, because great nutrition means better immunity!
What is the immune system?
Ensuring our bodies are able to fight off sickness is an important step to maintaining good health. Knowing how your immune system works is the first step to taking care of yourself and protecting you from threats from the outside world.
Your immune system is a complex network of cells, tissues and organs that produces white blood cells when something enters your body, like a virus. Those white blood cells then go into action, making sure that any harm done to your body can be resolved as quickly as possible if you do catch something.
Eating healthy foods that provide essential vitamins and minerals can help in strengthening your immune system and helping you stay healthier for longer. Taking care of yourself doesn't have to be overly complicated but, looking after your immunity is necessary if you want optimal wellness throughout life.
10 foods to boost your immunity
#1 Yoghurt - Probiotics
Greek yoghurt, in particular, is full of probiotics which are known to fight illness. Researchers have proven that people who eat probiotics daily have a lower risk of catching a cold (1).
Broccoli is one of the most nourishing foods for you as it’s jam packed with vitamins and nutrients including vitamins A, C and E as well as heaps of antioxidants which are key in boosting your immunity. Broccoli also provides us with magnesium, zinc, iron and many more valuable nutrients.
Ginger plays a valuable role in boosting our immune system as well as containing antioxidants and anti-inflammatory attributes. Ginger is literally the OG in promoting our health and wellness!
#4 Citrus fruits
Citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits and limes are high in vitamin C and antioxidants which work together to boost immunity. It is believed that vitamin C increased the production of white blood cells, which are our body’s defence against infection.
#5 Oily fish and shellfish
Salmon and shellfish are filled with zinc, which is a mineral required for optimal immune system function. To avoid a cold this winter, try increasing your intake of zinc-rich foods.
Fish such as salmon, tuna or mackerel also have high levels of Omega 3 fatty acids which help to fight infection by increasing activity among your white blood cells. Omega 3s are also excellent for your heart and brain functions too.
#6 Green tea
Green tea is packed with high levels of antioxidants, which boost immune function. Not only is it lower in calories and caffeine than coffee and black tea, green tea also supplies us with a particular amino acid called Theanine, which helps boost the immune system against colds and flu (2).
Garlic is rich in allicin, a sulphur-rich compound that enhances your immune system to fight off viral infections. You can actually increase the allicin content by leaving the garlic to stand for 10 minutes, after chopping or crushing it, before cooking.
Spinach is rich in antioxidants called carotenoids, along with vitamins A, C and E, which have been linked to preventing the common cold (3), as well as replenishing cells and increasing immunity.
Almonds are the perfect way to get vitamin E into your body due to the presence of fats, which vitamin E needs to be absorbed. Vitamin E is essential for healthy immune systems as it reduces the production of free radicals, which cause illness, damage and ageing!
Blueberries are another food packed with antioxidants to fight and prevent colds and coughs. Flavonoid antioxidants reduce the likelihood of catching a cold by 33% (4) and, of course, blueberries are filled with flavonoids!
Need help boosting your immunity for winter?
All of our practitioners can help you maintain good health throughout the year with nutritional information. Our herbalists can also recommend homoeopathic remedies to aid your body’s defence.
If you would like to discuss anything in this article or book a consultation, call us on 07 3186 0587 or complete our online booking form.
1) The effect of probiotics on prevention of common cold: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trial studies
2) l-Theanine as a Functional Food Additive: Its Role in Disease Prevention and Health Promotion
3) Effect of Flavonoids on Upper Respiratory Tract Infections and Immune Function: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis
Eat for Health