8 flu fighting super foods
What to eat to boost your immunity and help you fight the flu this winter.
Lite n’ Easy dietitian Ashleigh Jones tells us what we really should be doing to help boost our immunity and give some relief to symptoms when we’re battling the common cold or the Flu.
While we are all focused on the importance of things like social distancing and good hygiene to help combat the spread of Coronavirus, it can be easy to overlook the everyday basics that will keep our immune systems in good stead.
Yes, it is correct, the cooler winter months increases our chances of catching the common cold or the flu (or influenza). This is because the shorter days and longer nights of winter mean less sunlight and thus less natural vitamin D – which helps power the immune system. This consequently makes us more vulnerable to infection. However, boosting your diet with nutritious comfort foods can do wonders for your immune system and keep you fighting fit this winter!
1. “Keep Warm & Eat Soup”
Soup is a great option as it’s a gentle and comforting way to get your vegetables, protein and fluid which will put you on the road to recovery as quickly as possible. The steam from hot soup can also help to break up any congestion and soothe a sore throat. Just be wary of the sodium content in store bought versions, particularly canned and “just add water” varieties.
2. “A hot cup of tea is like a bath on the inside”
There’s nothing more comforting than a hot cup of tea when you’re under the weather. Tea is full of antioxidants and can provide much needed relief to a sore throat and stuffy nose. It can also help suppress coughing. Turn your tea into a flavour bomb by adding a teaspoon of honey or a squeeze of lemon. Ginger tea can be a great option when you’re unwell, as it can help fight nausea. Ginger has a whole stack vitamins and minerals, plus it creates a warming sensation that can make you feel a whole lot better on a cold day.
3. “Stop and smell the Garlic”
Garlic contains a number of nutrients that have been shown to be good for your health, including oligosaccharides, which are a type of fermentable carbohydrate that help promote a healthy microbiome and good gut health. Garlic may even help reduce your likelihood of catching a cold. Some studies have shown that people who consumed garlic daily caught the common cold less frequently than those who did not consume garlic. To maximise the benefits of garlic in fighting off those winter colds, it is best consumed daily as either raw garlic or aged garlic extract, but any garlic is better than none! Garlic is cheap, easy to find, and simple to use in many different types of preparations – check out some of these simple and easy garlic recipes.
4. “So, we meat again”
If you’re a meat eater, red meats such as beef and lamb contain lots of iron and zinc. Having low blood levels of iron and zinc can weaken the immune system which can make us more susceptible to illnesses such as the flu. Enjoy a portion of red meat twice per week to help maintain your iron and zinc levels.
5. “Life is a mixture of Chickpeas”
Chickpeas may not sound very glamorous, but they’re actually nutrition powerhouses! Chickpeas and other legumes, such as lentils, kidney beans, black beans and baked beans, are high in fibre as well as protein. Fibre is important for keeping your gut healthy, which is crucial during cold and flu season, as your gut plays a major role in immunity. Protein is also key because it will help to build and repair cells, which is vital when fighting illness.
6. “Orange you glad… we have Vitamin C”
When thinking of flu fighting foods, vitamin C is probably the first thing you think of, and for good reason. Vitamin C plays an important role in keeping your immune system working at its best, and helps your body to absorb iron from your diet. Rather than reaching for juice, opt for a whole piece of fruit like oranges, grapefruit or kiwi fruit. Aside from being refreshing, citrus fruits are bursting with vitamin C which can help with making symptoms milder and can shorten the length of illness.
7. “Eat your Greens!”
How many times we you told to ‘eat your greens as a child’? Greens are fantastic for your health! They are rich sources of vitamins, minerals and fibre, but at the same time are extremely low in fat and sugar. Leafy greens like spinach, silverbeet, brussel sprouts, kale and broccoli are a bursting with nutrients and can help boost your immune system when you’re not feeling well. They’re full of vitamin C and fibre, which your body needs to stay healthy and fight disease. For optimum health we should be aiming to eat 5 serves of veg each day. With vegetable intake, variety is key to make sure you get all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals to keep you healthy – and don’t forget to include those leafy greens! A serve of leafy greens is 75g, or about 1 cup of raw greens (like chopped lettuce, kale or rocket) or ½ cup of cooked greens (like broccoli, cabbage or English spinach).
8. “How much water have you drunk today?”
It’s easy to get dehydrated with the flu. Not only do you tend to eat and drink less due to a decreased appetite, but you also lose hydration with sweat when you have a fever. If water on its own doesn’t appeal you can add some citrus to your water for some extra vitamin C, or drink tea, broth or even the odd cup of coffee just to keep your fluids up.
The single most important dietary change you can make to be healthier is to eat five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit each day. But it can be hard, which is why Lite n’ Easy’s complete meal solutions are the way to go. You’ll get to eat the right foods in the right portions throughout the day and you get your daily 5+2 simply by enjoying our complete solution with a huge range of delicious meals. Give us a call on 13 15 12 or click here to order now.
Ashleigh Jones is an Accredited Practising Dietitian with extensive dietetics experience working across hospitals, corporate health, private practice and the food industry. A published researcher, she has collaborated actively across several disciplines including genetics, multiple sclerosis and sports nutrition. Ashleigh specialises in endocrine disorders with particular interest in weight management, pituitary and thyroid disorders, and management of diabetes. Ashleigh is passionate about promoting healthy habits, especially for busy people and offers simple and sustainable nutrition solutions.