5 healthy foods to protect you against winter colds

Libby Limon BSc NT mBANT / Nov 10, 2015

With the leaves falling and nights drawing in, winter is definitely just around the corner. Autumn is the perfect time to start boosting your immune system to ward off getting coughs, colds and flu during the winter months. Here are my top five foods for boosting your immune system to keep your respiratory tract as fit as a fiddle…

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1. Mushrooms, are my top food for the immune system. They contain high levels of beta-glucans, an immune boosting compounds. All mushrooms contain some of these nutrients to support immune system, but adding shitake and reishi mushrooms in particular to your regular diet is an easy way to get the immune benefits from mushrooms. Add shitakes to soups, stews and stirfrys, reishi can be bought and made as a tea. I add reishi powder to raw cacao and almond milk to make a immune supercharged hot chocolate.

2. Elderberry syrup, is a potent anti-viral, and has been shown in studies* to protect against 10 strains of the influenza virus. It also has anti-inflammatory properties so shortens the duration of flu symptoms to 3-4 days. Find it in your local health food store, ideally combined with Maunka honey which has anti-microbial properties. It can be added to smoothies or make with hot water and lemon for cosy warming beverage.

3. Ginger and Turmeric. Have been found to inhibit the growth of bacteria and pathogenic fungi. High in anti-oxidants both these spices have been found to boost the immune system and be potent anti-inflammatories. They are better absorbed if you eat them combined with fats, so mix them with healthy fats from coconut milk to make delicious curries. Ginger and Turmeric are also part of our VITL ‘supergreens’ capsule.

4. Aged Black Garlic. Garlic is another food that has strong anti-viral effects, it has been shown to protective against a number of viruses including strains of flu. Aged black garlic, which has a sweet mellow flavour similar to balsamic vinegar flavour, undergoes a process that actually enhances anti-oxidant properties. Having potent anti-inflammatory and immune support effects when eaten regularly. Add it to soups, stews and dressings. Using black garlic means you can have all the health effects without having to worry about garlic breath!

5. Probiotic foods. Your digestive system is the first line of defence against invading pathogens. Your gut flora plays a major part in this helping to patrol and neutralise germs and bad bacteria. You can support your colony of beneficial bacteria by regularly eating probiotic foods, such as live yoghurts, kefirs, sauerkraut and kimchi.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, vitamin C, zinc and Vitamin D are key nutrients needed for the immune system to stay strong and healthy over the winter months. Taking VITL supplements everyday ensures that your levels stay robust levels.

*http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11399518