Your immune system is your front line of defence against winter illnesses, so knowing how to boost it is a great step towards staying healthy.
Just like the rest of your body, your immune system thrives when it gets certain nutrients. Here are some ideas of the kind of foods you should be eating to give it the support it needs.
Making healthy winter meals
It's not unusual to start craving comfort foods when the weather takes a turn for the worse and the days become darker. But if you're going to give in to those cravings, do include plenty of healthy vegetables in your meals so you're still getting the nutrients you need.
For example, why not replace your regular mashed potato with carrot, apple and celeriac alternatives? Carrots contains carotene, which may be good for boosting the immune system, while red apples contain quercetin, which is good for helping to keep colds away. And celeriac contains vitamin C, which is also great for supporting your immune system.
This is just one example of a side dish but there are hundreds of recipes online that you can adapt to create your own healthy winter meals.
Why should I eat porridge?
A steaming bowl of porridge for breakfast is a great way to start your winter morning. That’s because oats contain beta-glucans, a type of fibre that slows down the absorption of carbohydrates into the bloodstream.
This slower digestion prevents dramatic spikes in blood sugar that would otherwise encourage us to produce and store fat. So, from porridge, you’ll get a slow release of energy, leaving you feeling fuller for longer and a wide range of vitamins and minerals too.
Among the nutrients porridge contains are B vitamins 1, 5 and 6, calcium, magnesium, zinc and vitamin E. What's more, it can be an easy way to vary your diet by adding 'superfruits' like blueberries and kiwis into your diet, providing further health benefits.
Lots of ‘superfoods’ can help to support your immune system, although some might be harder to work into your diet than others. Some of these superfoods are:
- Brazil nuts
These are all thought to stimulate the immune system. Of course, eating these foods is no guarantee you will escape a cold - sometimes you just have to take it on the chin - but by adopting a diet that helps your body to protect itself, then you should have a decent chance of avoiding the dreaded winter lurgy.