Immune Boosting Foods to Keep You Fighting Fit this Winter!

Author: Corinne Bett   Date Posted:21 April 2016 

Cold and Flu season is coming and we all know prevention is better than cure. If you are lucky enough, your local Fruit & Vege store is around the corner, this is where you're gong to find lots of immune boosting foods to keep you fighting fit this winter! Foods that are high in Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Zinc, as well as Pre/Probiotic foods are all important for the regulation of the body’s immune response, to fend off the dreaded lurgy.

Take up the challenge this winter and see how many immune boosting foods you can incorporate into your diet and enjoy a cold and flu free season.

Vitamin A:

How does it boost the Immune System?

  1. Vitamin A maintains the health of our epithelial cells which line our airways, gastrointestinal tract, surfaces of our blood vessels and our organs, which in turn protect us from infection.
  2. Vitamin A may also assist with the function of our various immune fighting cells; including T cells, B lymphocytes, neutrophils and our macrophages – our pac-man like immune cells.
  3. Vitamin A may improve the production of antibodies, to fend off future viruses and help to prevent prolonged inflammatory reactions in the body.

Where to find it: Egg yolk, butter, liver, fish, cod liver oil, carrots, apricot, barley grass, green leafy vegetables, mint.

Vitamin C:

How does it boost the Immune System?

  1. Vitamin C  helps with the function of our immune fighting T cells and neutrophils and can stimulate the production of interferons; proteins which protect our cells against viral attack.
  2. Vitamin C is an anti-oxidant which can protect our immune cells from damage.
  3. Vitamin C is widely used to prevent and treat upper respiratory tract infections by reducing levels of histamine commonly as a result of these infections.

Where to find it: Citrus fruits including oranges, lemons, limes, kiwi fruit, black currants, red capsicum, rosehips, strawberries, guava, brussel sprouts, broccoli, parsley, sweet potato, tomato, watermelon, paw paw and pineapples. Quick tip: Vitamin C in foods can be destroyed through transport, cooking and storage of foods. To get the most out of your Vitamin C rich foods, try and buy them from a local farmers market (so they don’t have to travel far to get to you), cook minimally or blanch vegetables and store in a dark, cool environment.
 

C-Complex Sustained Release

Zinc:

How does it boost the Immune System?

  1. Zinc is one of the nutrients responsible for the normal development and function of immune cells including neutrophils and monocytes.
  2. Zinc increases the amount and effectiveness of our immune fighting T cells, which means there are more readily available to perform various immune tasks, such as the fighting of infection.
  3. As we age our levels of Zinc tend to decrease which can make us more vulnerable to catching colds and flus, so it’s important to incorporate adequate levels of Zinc in the diet.

Where to find it: Oysters are the richest (and most indulgent!) source of Zinc. Others foods with high amounts include red meat, poultry, pork, seafood, dairy products. There are smaller amounts in beans, nuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds, whole grains and even cucumber peel.

Pre & Probiotics:

How do they boost the Immune System?

  1. Prebiotics are non-digested carbohydrates found in our diet which feed the good bacteria present in our gut, and bolster our immune system by modulating our immune response and increase mucin and short chain fatty acid production, which protects our gut wall from infection.
  2. Probiotics are live beneficial bacteria which can improve the health of our microbiota and immune system, with some strains enhancing the function of our immune fighting cells and such as natural killer cells and macrophages and inhibiting the growth of potentially pathogenic micro-organisms and viruses in the gut.

Where to find them:

  • Prebiotics - artichokes, asparagus, bananas, chicory root, dandelion greens, garlic, leek, onions and wheat.
  • Probiotics - fermented foods including yoghurt and other cultured dairy products, saurkreat, kefir, kombucha, miso, kim chi.
Written by Corinne Bett

Corinne spent her childhood helping her mother and grandfather in the garden grow various herbs and vegetables. This sparked a great interest in herbal medicine and nutrition in later life, and a passion for a wholefood diet. As a Naturopath today, she likes to empower others to utilise food as medicine, and live a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In her spare time she like to spend time in nature bushwalking and swimming, adventuring in far and exotic places, and dreaming about what kind of dog she might like to have one day.