Categories: Healthy Eating

10 Foods to give your immune system a boost this winter

Boost your immune system to avoid getting sick

“Cold and Flu” season is upon us sadly, and everywhere you go you’re sure to hear someone coughing or sneezing! So now is probably a very good time to give you immune system a boost.

Becoming sick impacts your life in many ways, its uncomfortable for starters, it reduces your productivity, means time off work which ends up putting you behind adding stress to your life.

Your energy levels suffer and even the people around you end up either getting an earful of your bad mood (have you ever got snappy because you have a sore throat or a headache?) or end up catching it themselves.

(For more on boosting your energy levels read are article ‘What Would it Feel like to have boundless energy’).

Saves you money

Not only that but you also end up spending a fortune on this type cough medicine or that type of cough medicine, boxes and boxes of tissues, sore throat tablets and lemsip.

If you have kids, I’m sure you can relate to how hard it is to not get sick from those little slimy hands – they are like petri dish on legs!

Do you know on average, school-age kids experience eight to ten colds a year? [according to The Children’s Hospital Guide to Your Child’s Health and Development].

However, by taking action and tweaking your diet and lifestyle you can really make a big difference!

How can you boost your Immune System?

Thankfully, it’s not that hard to give your immune system a nice big helping hand and boost by adding some delicious and nutritious foods to your diet that are all pretty easy to buy.

We’ve listed 10 foods below, all have high immunity boosting nutrients (e.g. vitamins A, B and C, zinc), antiviral and/or anti-bacterial properties.

We’ve also included some lovely healthy recipes to help you to get them into your meals.

Add these foods to your diet to boost immunity

1. Yogurt (ideally plain yogurt as added sugar can actually suppress immunity)

Probiotic Yogurt can help strengthen your immune system. Yogurt contains lactobacillus bacteria which is one of the bacteria that helps your body to defend against other harmful bacteria.

Probiotic foods such as yogurt essentially send reinforcements to your immune system flooding your body with healthy bacteria. The immune system function and Probiotics go hand in hand, so make sure you eat probiotic foods as often as possible!

The more of this good bacteria you have in your intestines, the more your body is able to fight and prevent disease from spreading by lining your intestines and improving your bodies ability to absorb nutrients.

2. Honey – contains anti-viral properties

Picture from ‘Green Kitchen Stories’

For centuries all types of honey have been used as natural antibiotics but in recent times, researchers have found that honey’s power to exterminate germs comes from the hydrogen peroxide produced with the help of an enzyme called the Bee enzyme.

Manuka honey takes this a step further by using something called MGO to actually attack germs. This MGO is found in the nectar of some Manuka plants and can help heal both minor & major wounds.

The more MGO  the better for antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Here is a lovely way to get honey and yogurt into your diet courtesy of this delicious recipe here at ‘Green Kitchen Stories’

3. Pumpkin seeds

Pumpkin seeds contain a high amount of zinc (1 ounce has more than 2 mg of Zinc) and omega-3, both essential for a healthy immune system.

Zinc helps with many important health factors, including immunity, sleep & mood, insulin regulation, cell growth. It also plays an important role in your senses of taste & smell along with eye & skin health.

Zinc deficiency can cause chronic fatigue, acne and increased colds and flu.

4. Ginger – has anti-viral properties

Ginger has been well known in Ayurvedic medicine to help boost the immune system, going back thousands of years, so far back in fact it’s before recorded history.

It’s believed that it can help break down the accumulation of toxins, that make your body more susceptible to viral and bacterial infections. Ayurvedic medicine states it does this due to it being so good at warming the body.

Other health benefits Ginger is known for included cleansing the lymphatic system.

5. Garlic – has anti-viral and anti-bacterial properties

Picture ‘Whats Cooking Good Looking’

Garlic has been famous for its healing powers for many years, and can work wonders against infectious diseases like cold & flu likely due to its immune boosting effects.

The Garlic you ingest must be fresh though to ensure you get the optimal health benefits, as fresh garlic is a powerful antibacterial, antiviral & anti-fungal agent.

Garlic is also great for fighting viruses and yeast infections.

A yummy way to make use of all three of the above Ginger, Pumpkin Seeds, Garlic and Spinach with this Black Rice Salad Recipe from ‘Whatscookinggoodlooking’

6. Ground seeds, lentils, beans, whole grains and certain Nuts – good source of Vitamin E & protein

Iron, zinc, manganese, folate and fiber are all essential for a strong immune system. So with Lentils containing all of these ingredients it’s no wonder they help your immune system. Improving your digestive health and blood sugar levels, makes them a wonderful option to give yourself a boost this winter.

Whole grains contain a substance known as benzoxazinoids (BX), with scientists now believing eating whole grains rich in BX may help to boost you immune system.

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can boost the immune systems especially in elderly people, so eating nuts high in Vitamin E is well worth doing. Nuts rich in vitamin E include Hazelnuts, Pistachio, Walnuts, almonds and Brazil nuts.

7.  Fresh fruits and vegetables

Carrots, Beets, Sweet Potatoes & Tomatoes especially as these are rich in beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A

Picture ‘Sassy-Kitchen’

This fantastic recipe from ‘Sassy-Kitchen’ will help you get Carrots, Lentils and Garlic in your body to help boost your Immune system

8. Mushrooms (maitake, reishi, shiitake) – elevate flu-fighting agents

Picture credit ‘

Research has shown that eating mushrooms can help boost the bodies natural immune system and help fight off infections and viruses.

Hormone-like proteins called cytokines play a big role in defending the body against viral infections and tumours and mushrooms improve levels of this hormone.

Shiitake mushrooms pack a lot of flavour and this lovely quick recipe from ‘Simply Recipes’ makes great use of them

9. Cold water fish – good source of Vitamin B6, protein and omega-3

Vitamin B6 is critical for your immune system. Making Cold water fish ideal, as it’s full of it! Other foods high in vitamin B6 include baked potatoes, chickpeas and bananas.

Yummy broiled Salmon with fennel and radish risotto from ‘Brooklyn Supper’

10. Green tea – with its anti-viral properties

One of the most ancient natural remedies Green tea is unfermented, leaving it with a high concentration of healthy antioxidants known as polyphenols. Polyphenols are micronutrients and are packed full of antioxidants that can improve or help treat digestion, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Green tea is also well known for it’s anti-viral and anti-bacterial capabilities with studies showing its possible effect on multiple types of influenza by inhibiting flu replication, potentially even acting on the virus itself.

Tip – Make sure you avoid sugar and alcohol, both of these can weaken your immune system!

Let us know

We hope you love cooking and eating these recipes and here’s to a healthy, cold free winter!

If you enjoyed this article you may also like to read our ‘How to reduce stress by adding these foods to your diet’

Let us know in the comments below….

Calm Happy Healthy

We exist to do all we can to help make life a richer, more inspiring and enjoyable experience, for you our reader. By aiming to help you realise that you have the power and ability to change what needs to be changed to improve your health, state of mind, diet, energy levels, reduce stress and do your bit to help look after the environment. Live a Calmer, Happier and Healthier life.

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