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There are some basic things we all know, that help us stay healthy and keep our immunity strong; I won’t be going into all of these things, rather I want to focus on some of the foods that boost our immunity, specifically, foods that help us stay strong against colds and flu (and hopefully help in the fight against Covid-19) over this winter season.

Here is a list of the very basics:

* Drink lots of water
* Don’t smoke
* Eat healthy – loads of fruit and vegetables (5+ a day)
* Exercise regularly (at least 30 minutes a day)
* Drink alcohol in moderation
* Get a good 8 hours of sleep a night
* Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene
* Minimise stress if at all possible

Top five vitamins & minerals for boosting your immunity:

* Vitamin C is essential in the fight against colds and flu, and is our best defence in keeping well; it actively fights against the infections when you are sick. Unfortunately, the body can’t produce it or store it, so we need to make sure that we are taking it daily to keep healthy, but with so many foods containing Vitamin C, it is often not even necessary to take supplements.

* Vitamin E is an antioxidant, and is known to be an immunoregulator; this means it plays a pivotal role by increasing the immune system’s response to infection!

* Vitamin B6 helps to improve the immune system response to infection and also helps in the production of antibodies.

* Vitamin D helps our immune systems stay balanced during the cold and flu season, and serves as our own personal pharmacy resource.

* Zinc is a mineral that’s important to the body in many ways, it keeps the immune system strong, helps heal wounds, and supports normal growth.

Top 12 Immune-Boosting Foods to fit Colds and Flu:

1) Oranges & Citrus:

Full of Vitamin C, this is a fruit that is in season in the winter months – isn’t it amazing how our seasonal fruits and vegetables are available just when the human body needs them the most? Need to boost your vitamin C? Start with oranges and lemons; lemon and honey drink anyone!?! Freshly squeezed orange juice in the mornings is a great way to start the day, including the kids – maybe porridge with fresh orange instead of berries, would be a great way to transition into the cooler months!

2) Water:

While water doesn’t have any magical vitamins in it; what it does is keep us hydrated so we’re able to fight the infection. It also helps to dissolve the vitamins and minerals, and other nutrients from food, so that these vital components can be delivered to the rest of our body to be used as needed.

3) Greek yogurt:

Greek yoghurt is full of the good bacteria probiotics and has a load more protein than the normal yoghurt. Researchers have discovered that probiotics help prevent, but also help heal the common cold, the same paper suggests that those taking probiotics daily have a lower risk of catching a common cold. I will go further into probiotics and fermented food in my next blog post.

4) Blueberries:

Blueberries are filled with antioxidants (thus Vitamin E) that can help treat and prevent coughs and colds. Research conducted here in New Zealand shows that adults who regularly eat foods with the specific antioxidants called flavonoids, whether through food such as blueberries, or supplements, had a 33% less chance of catching a common cold! Bring on those Blueberry Muffins this winter!

5) Tomatoes:

Tomatoes have a really high concentration of Vitamin C; one medium tomato contains over 16mg of vitamin C, the top vitamin required to boost our immunity. Thankfully tomatoes are such a huge part of almost everyone’s lives that I am sure we’re don’t need any further encouragement to eat them, however, I don’t think tomato sauce can count!!!!

6) Salmon:

Salmon is filled with zinc, a nutrient that has been proven to assist with reducing common cold symptoms. Researchers have found that zinc significantly reduced the severity and duration of cold symptoms when eaten in your daily diet or taken regularly as a supplement.

7) Dark chocolate:

Dark chocolate contains a high level of theobromine, an antioxidant that has been proven to minimise coughing, which is great news *cough, cough*, I can just hear my daughter calling out at night ‘Mum, I am coughing and can’t sleep, can you please get me some dark chocolate’!

8) Broccoli:

Broccoli a really under-rated “superfood”, it is full of vitamins A, C and E, combined with its antioxidants and fibre; it really is a vegetable you can’t look past in these difficult times. The best way to eat it is raw, but if your kids (or you) can’t stomach it this way – then just lightly steamed and salted helps keep all the incredible benefits in the broccoli, so that you can gain as much from it as possible!

9) Extra virgin olive oil:

Olive oil has been shown to help rebuild and boost the body’s immunity, the high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids act as an anti-inflammatory agent in the body, which also assists in boosting the immune system and guarding the body of infection.

10) Spinach:

Spinach is full of vitamin C and also packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, which is said to increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. It is great in salads but also added to stir-fries and smoothies, it is good to get as much of this little gem as possible into your diet, and as it’s super easy to grow, and does well in the cooler temperatures we’re going into – plant some now, and reap the benefit for the next few months.

11) Eggs:

Eggs contain a high amount of vitamin D, especially the yolk, this is a vitamin that’s imperative in regulating and strengthening our immunity systems. There is research linking daily doses of vitamin D (with food intake or supplements) were far less likely to catch a cold, or get an upper respiratory infection. Such great news in these difficult times.

12) Apples:

“An apple a day keeps the doctor away” isn’t just a saying — apples actually can help prevent the common cold. This fruit contains a range of antioxidants that help boost immunity and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. With apples just coming into season now, it’s a great way to boost our immunity, and also our children, apples are such an easy fruit to pop into their lunch-box or turn into fruit leather.

In my next blog post I will be talking about the 5 top herbs and spices for immunity, and also 8 other foods that are worth including in your everyday diet, I will also be working on putting up recipes that contain immune-boosting foods for the long hard winter coming. Anything we can do naturally that will decrease our risks of getting Covid-19 (or at least reduce the effects of it), has got to be a win in my books. With the rate this disease is growing, even in our country, we need to have started yesterday and started hard incorporating these foods but now is better than never.


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