With winter well and truly upon us, we find ourselves searching for tips, tricks and potions that promise to keep coughs and colds at bay.
While a single food may not hold the answer to stopping a cold in its tracks, there is a powerful combination of foods that will help keep your immune system in tip top condition - your best natural defense against coughs and colds.
Give your immune system a helping hand by making sure your shopping basket includes:
1. Healthy gut foods
It all starts in your tummy – a healthy immune system needs to be supported by good gut bacteria. For this you need prebiotics and probiotics.
Probiotics are live bacteria that are beneficial to your gut microbiome. They are especially important after taking a course of antibiotics. You’ll find probiotics in some fermented foods and most supermarkets are now stocking a much bigger range. As well as kombucha and kimchi, there’s also the less exotic yoghurts and kefir with live bacteria, as well as sauerkraut and sourdough breads to add to your shopping basket.
More important than probiotics, you’ll need the prebiotics that feed them. Our healthy gut bacteria depend daily on the fibre you feed them. Prebiotics are a special type of fibre that can easily be found in wholegrain foods, legumes, and veggies like Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus and onions.
2. Go healthy fats
We all love another reason to eat avocado on toast! Healthy fats can help regulate your immune system’s response to infection, so make sure your shopping basket contains nuts, avocado, and olive oil. A handful of nuts at least 5 times a week can provide a good source of zinc, which also helps to boost immunity.
3. Powerful plant protection
Phytonutrients are chemicals released from plants to help them stay healthy. We can reap the same benefits by eating plenty of plant foods. Phytonutrient-rich foods include colorful fruits and veggies, legumes, nuts, teas (herbal, black, green etc), whole grains and also many herbs and spices. Try adding some coriander, turmeric, cumin, carrots, berries and spinach to your shopping basket.