by Staff Writer, Alannah Molloy.
Winter is approaching fast which unfortunately means cold and flu season is just around the corner. With the harsh weather that lasts months on end it seems impossible to avoid catching a cold. While we can try our best to wrap up when we go outside, get enough sleep and limit our stress levels, what we eat plays a huge role in the strength of our immune system. Listed below are foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals which will help our bodies fight off any nasty colds or flus that might come our way this winter.
Almost all citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C, which is a water-soluble vitamin well known for its role in supporting a healthy immune system. This vitamin helps white blood cells function more effectively, strengthening the skin’s defence system which helps to fight off infections. It's important to eat foods rich in Vitamin C as the body doesn't produce or store it. The recommended daily intake for adults is 75mg for women and 90mg for men. Some citrus fruits to include in your diet are; grapefruits, oranges, clementines, lemons and limes.
Red Bell Peppers
It's pretty common to associate Vitamin C with only citrus fruits, however, orange and red bell peppers actually contain a significant amount more of the vitamin than an orange. Red peppers are also a great source of Vitamin A, which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy. They're the perfect vegetable to throw into simple dinners like stir fries or tray bakes.
Broccoli is one of the best vegetables you can eat as it's packed with vitamins A, C and E, as well as fibre and many antioxidants. To retain the highest amount of nutrients from broccoli, it's best to cook it as little as possible.
Ginger is packed with antioxidants and is said to help decrease inflammation, which is why many people use it to help soothe a sore throat. A great way of getting the benefits from ginger is adding small pieces to hot water with lemon and honey, which can help make you feel better if you’re run down.
The best yoghurts to eat are the ones that contain live and active cultures, which are good bacteria known as probiotics. These cultures promote a healthy gut and immune system. Eating foods packed with probiotics during cold and flu season may lessen the impact of the common cold. You can also buy probiotics in tablet form, ensuring you get enough of these healthy cultures each day.
We make Vitamin D in our skin in response to sunlight, however the sun during winter in Ireland is sadly a rare occurrence. Vitamin D is key in supporting normal immune function in adults and children. It also helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body, which are essential nutrients to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy. Oily fish like salmon, tuna and swordfish are great sources of the vitamin, as well as eggs, milk and other dairy products that are fortified with Vitamin D.
Another good way of ensuring you get enough Vitamin D is by taking a daily supplement. Dr Doireann O’Leary, the queen of nutrient knowledge has released a great range of supplements with Meaghers Pharmacy which can be found here. The Vitamin D supplement even comes in a handy spray bottle form, making it super easy to use as you can bring it with you anywhere.
Almonds are a great source of healthy fats and also contain Vitamin E. This is another important vitamin that plays a key role in maintaining a healthy immune system. It is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to properly be absorbed by the body. Other good sources of this antioxidant are peanuts, sunflower seeds and hazelnuts.