Winter is here alongside sore throats and runny noses. It’s difficult to avoid the invisible lurgies that lurk in the office, gym and on public transport. Diet can really boost immunity and reduce the duration and severity of illness. Read on to find out exactly what you should be eating to survive the cooler months.
The average Australian catches the common cold around two to four times a year. A few days in bed can really set back your training goals. When you do return to work and the gym you may feel low in energy and will be vulnerable to the next circulating bug. Eating the right, whole foods during this time rather than taking supplements will help get you back on track.
Protein is essential as the body uses amino acids to build antibodies that benefit the immune system. Eat plenty of protein-packed foods like poultry, seafood, lean meat, eggs, beans, peas, nuts, seeds and soy products. Nuts and seeds are also high in vitamin E that works as an antioxidant to support your health. Other, foods high in vitamin E include spinach, avocado and cereal.
A close ally of vitamin E is vitamin A. This protects us from infection by keeping skin and tissue healthy in the mouth, gut and respiratory system. Half a carrot’s all that’s required to meet 100% of your vitamin E needs. This can be eaten as a snack or in salads, soups and casseroles. Sweet potatoes, spinach, red capsicum, eggs and fortified milk and cereals are also excellent sources of vitamin A.
Vitamin C is the third and most well-known vitamin to focus on for your immunity. It works miracles by stimulating the formation of antibodies during winter. You can easily reach your daily recommended intake by eating loads of red capsicum, kiwi fruit, strawberries, lemons and or course oranges. Consume any caffeine an hour before or after your vitamin C foods as caffeine inhibits the absorption of vitamins.
Minerals are important too. Zinc protects the body from infections and assists healing. If you love oysters you’re probably getting tons of zinc. If you’re on a budget chow down on brown rice, wheat germ, lean beef or veal instead. It’s important to eat as many key vitamins and minerals as possible when you have a cold.
Survivors that are still out there dodging the spray of coughs and elevator button mucous can increase their chances of staying healthy through probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria which reach the gut intact and provide immune boosting benefits. Yoghurt is a fantastic source of probiotics as are fermented foods like kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso and kombucha.
Prebiotics are a form of dietary fibre that act like a fertilizer for the good bacteria in the gut. Prebiotic fibre is found in the skins of fruits and vegetables like apples, bananas, onions, artichokes and beans. Supplements may be of benefit if you’re unable to reach your quota of these foods. Remember to drink plenty of water too.
Pack your diet with immune boosting foods and I guarantee you’ll spend more time at the gym than at the GP. Even if you do succumb to a sniffle it will be milder in intensity and duration. My advice is to spread more immune boosting foods and less lurgies.