Sadly, summer is now firmly behind us once more, and the autumn weather is ploughing full speed ahead. While you may not need the hat and gloves just yet, we are heading straight for flu season, and you need to be prepared. The jury is still out on why exactly cold & flu become so common in the winter, but we do know that a weakened immune system plays a role. So to help you prepare for winter and stave off sickness, we have compiled a list of foods that will help your immune system stay on top of its game, hopefully protecting you from a few weeks of sniffs and sneezes.
Here’s an entry most people will be happy to see on the list. Eating protein helps the body fight infection by promoting the production of antibodies, making it much more capable of fighting off a cold. On top of that, the zinc levels in beef will help you produce more white blood cells, which are also crucial in fighting and preventing infection. So if you’re worried about contracting a cold, treat yourself to a steak or burger to keep yourself safe.
If you would like fries with that, why not try switching to sweet potato? Sweet potatoes are a fantastic source of vitamin A, which is essential for what are known as the mucosal surfaces. While not the most appetising thought, the mucosal surfaces are areas on our bodies that can develop mucus, such as the stomach lining, inner nose, and even the skin. These are all weak points through which harmful bacteria can enter, but a healthy amount of mucus can prevent them from getting too far. This is why our body reacts to getting a cold by producing more mucus, so rather than waiting until you get sick, build up a good defense pre-emptively.
It may not help your breath, but garlic can help your immune system. Garlic is the best natural source of allicin, which contains sulfur (hence the overpowering smell). Allicin has powerful antimicrobial * antibacterial properties, which helps fight off any foreign invaders. Eating garlic also helps promote the production of your natural stomach bacteria, effectively making this a double-whammy food. Fortunately garlic is very cheap, versatile, and easy to work with, but even if it isn’t your thing, you can always try an odourless garlic supplement.
Salmon & Tuna
One of our main sources of Vitamin D is the sun, so it should come as no surprise that our reserves dip in the winter. Knowing this, it is essential that you make up the difference through your diet. Two simple but very effective options for this are tuna & salmon. Both chock-full of vitamin D, these are two more examples of a cheap, versatile food that you can easily incorporate into your diet. Just be sure to stick exclusively to wild fish, as farmed fish are substantially less nutritious and beneficial.
It may sound cliché, but with good reason. Chicken soup is high in protein and can be combined with other vegetables to deliver a significant immunity boost. Hot chicken also releases cysteine, an amino acid that helps bind protein. Finally, the hot liquid helps to hydrate and soothe any rough, damaged areas, as well as raise your core temperature, all of which contributes to keeping the cold at bay.
Hopefully these are foods that you can enjoy and easily incorporate into your diet. While it can be difficult to avoid a cold, taking advanced steps to do so give you your best shot at staying healthy, so try to work as many of these into your weekly diet as possible.
Would you like expert help from our Dietitians? Do get in touch!