The temperature has dropped, and the dreaded flu season is almost upon us, so we’ve spoken to top nutritionists to find out which immunity-boosting foods you need to be eating right now to give yourself a fighting chance of staying healthy.
‘Have a clove or two of garlic a day,’ says Patrick Holford, nutritionist and author of Boost Your Immune System. ‘It is naturally anti-viral and anti-bacterial.’
2. Pumpkin seeds
‘Pumpkin seeds are a great source of zinc,’ explains Nina Omotoso, nutritional therapist at Revital. ‘Zinc is one of the most important immune-boosting minerals, and promotes the function of the thymus gland, which controls the entire immune system. It also increases the production and activity of infection-fighting white blood cells, and has direct anti-viral properties.’
3. Herbs and Spices
‘Herbs and spices contain immune-supporting nutrients,’ explains Patrick Holford. ‘Try adding turmeric to rice or grating ginger into stir fries.’
‘Eating just two kiwi gives you around 160mg of vitamin C, which is a real classic when it comes to helping us fight coughs and colds,’ says Nina Omotoso. ‘Vitamin C enhances our immune response by increasing the production of white blood cells and antibodies. It also increases enzymes, and strengthens connective tissue and cell membranes, making it more difficult for viruses to spread through the body and enter cells.’
‘Eating a few cocoa beans a day could give your immune system a boost,’ says Nina Omotoso. ‘But while a chocolate bar may sound tempting, it won’t provide the same benefits – there’s less cocoa and too much sugar. It’s better to stick to the raw bean. It’s rich in flavonols, a type of antioxidant that can stimulate the immune system.’
And finally, avoid sugar at all costs. ‘Studies show that sugar can actually depress immune activity, so avoid any forms of it if you are fighting an infection,’ says Patick Holford.