Coming down with a cold? Time to whip up a batch of soup and a pot of tea. Both great options, but not as effective once symptoms start showing. If you watch what you eat before the congestion starts, your recovery will be much quicker. In fact, you might not even get a sniffle at all. How do you do this? Well, when it comes to your diet, treat your immune system like a friend who needs some support. Look for foods good for the immune system, like those packed with fibre, vitamins, zinc, iron, copper and selenium.
“Eating a variety of minimally processed foods from different food groups will ensure that we get the different micronutrients and macronutrients necessary to support a healthy immune system,” says Medical on Robina dietician Katie Harris.
“Certain nutrients such as Vitamin C, zinc, iron and Vitamin D have been shown to support immune health. Current research has also been exploring the impact of gastrointestinal health and our immune system. Research has shown that a diet rich in fibre, prebiotics and probiotics can help promote good bacteria in the gut and can also result in a healthier immune system.”
Below are some of the best foods for the immune system.
“Garlic contains sulfur compounds like allicin, which have antimicrobial properties. These compounds may help the immune system combat infections and reduce the severity of colds,” says clinical nutritionist Gabriella Ratner.
“Ginger contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that help to kill off viruses and pathogens, as well as minimise the symptoms caused by them,” says accredited nutritionist Tracie Connor.
According to Tracie, “Yoghurt, in its natural form with no added flavours, colours or sugars, provides important healthy bacteria culture for our immune system. This is because most of our immune system lies within our gut, where bacteria colonies live. When we eat foods filled with good bacteria, like natural yoghurt, it can enhance our gut strength and immunity.”
“Green tea is rich in antioxidants like catechins, which have been shown to enhance immune function. It also contains L-theanine, an amino acid that may support the production of immune cells,” says Gabriella.
“Capsicums, in particular the red variety, contain the highest amount of Vitamin C of all fruit and vegetables,” says Tracie. “Vitamin C plays a pivotal role in protecting the body against infections.”
Yes, they are delicious but Oysters are also one of the richest sources of the essential mineral zinc. “Zinc plays a vital role in keeping our immune health strong and works synergistically with Vitamin C,” explains Tracie. “Unfortunately, most people are zinc-deficient because it can be tricky to acquire the right amount through diet. Therefore if you love oysters, enjoy eating 1 or 2 to provide the recommended daily amount of Zinc for good health.”
“Berries are packed with antioxidants, including flavonoids and vitamin C,” says Gabriella. “These antioxidants help protect immune cells from damage caused by free radicals and support overall immune health.”