The flu-fighting foods you should be eating

Lee Holmes has some top tips for boosting your immunity naturally.

Building up your immune system is the best way to prevent yourself from picking up nasty bugs and viruses. And the best way to support your immune system? Through your diet! 

With cold and flu season well and truly here, it’s crucial to consume immune-boosting foods to help out your disease-fighting system. 

Here is my list of the vital ingredients for a flu-free winter, and what they can do for you.

The forgotten mineral: Zinc

Zinc is crucial for developing the body’s infection-fighting white blood cells. Vegetarians or vegans may have a particularly low intake of zinc as it’s commonly found and absorbed from animal products. To up your zinc levels, eat lean red meat, chicken, eggs, seafood - especially oysters and shellfish - and whole grains, nuts and seeds such as pumpkin seeds.

Go for Gold with turmeric

My hands will forever be stained yellow from my favourite immune booster, but it’s worth it for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It also helps fight bacteria and viruses when they attack, and is reportedly a natural painkiller. 

Wonder Vegetable: Garlic

I know that garlic can be controversial in some households: some hate the smell, others love the taste. What I can tell you is that only one clove of this immune-booster contains one hundred sulfuric compounds and is powerful enough to wipe out bacteria in seasonal infections. Raw garlic is the most beneficial for our health because heat and water can inactivate its enzymes and diminish garlic’s antibiotic effects. Garlic’s toxin-fighting properties help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, fight inflammation, and kill parasites in the body. Including garlic in your meals or drinking a cup of garlic tea will inject you with empowering and immune-boosting ammunition this winter season.

Eat the rainbow

Fruit and vegetables are rich in powerful antioxidants to help protect against infection. Flavonoids - the natural pigments that give plants their beautiful colours - have antioxidant and cell-protecting properties. The brighter the plant, the better! Research shows that the richer the colour of the produce, the higher its antioxidant properties.

Beetroot, broccoli, sweet potato, red capsicum, and pumpkin are the perfect addition to any winter warmer.  Roast them, mash them or use them in soups.

Star Spice: Ginger

I add ginger and turmeric to curries, teas, stir-fries and smoothies! Ginger has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties. It's is also super gut-friendly, helping to stimulate digestion and bowel function. In winter, we tend to load up on carbohydrate-heavy and rich meals like pastas, pizzas and roast dinners. This is why including bloat-fighting, cramp-reducing and nausea-decreasing ginger is crucial. Ginger also helps promote sweating which helps to detoxify the body and prevent illness.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is rich in antioxidants and will help increase production of necessary antibodies and white blood cells to ward off infections. Lucky for us, winter is the season of citrus - a great source of vitamin C. Other great sources include berries, broccoli, parsley, cabbage, capsicum and dark leafy greens. If I ever feel a cold coming on, I like to make a smoothie using oranges as a base, a handful of berries, leafy greens and a good squeeze of lime.

Hydrate yourself

During the cooler months, it can be a bit of a chore to remember to drink water; especially when it’s cold. Dehydration can make cough and flu symptoms much worse and also compromise our general digestion and immunity. If you struggle to drink enough water in winter, I suggest switching to teas and soups. This way, you’ll keep warm, hydrated and nourished. Also warm your water in the morning to kick start your digestion.

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