10 foods to keep colds and flu at bay
The winter chill with colds and flu bugs is here — but if you eat well you have a bettertte chancecace oof staying well, writes s Lanai Scarr
K eep your family healthy and happy throughout winter by eating well. Lanai Scarr lists 10 foods which will boost your family’s immunity.
B rrr, it’s getting chilly out there. And the onset of the colder weather generally means households around the country are struck down with colds and flus.
What we eat and feed our kids — and ourselves — plays an enormous role in helping our bodies function properly and fight off sickness. Eating a diet that is rich in immuneboosting vitamins and minerals can definitely help to keep us at peak health and ward off colds, flus and other bugs.
Many of us might know that oranges are a great way to increase vitamin C intake and boost immunity but there are a whole range of other foods that can also help to keep you fighting fit.
Here are my top 10 foods to help boost your family’s immunity and keep those bugs at bay.
Broccoli I know sometimes it can be a challenge to get your kids to eat broccoli but it really is SO good for boosting immunity.
Broccoli is packed with vitamin C and loaded with vitamins and minerals such as vitamin A, iron, vitamin K, Bcomplex vitamins, zinc, phosphorus and phytonutrients. Broccoli is a part of the cruciferous vegetable group and so is full of antioxidant vitamins that give your immune system a boost.
You can sneak broccoli into stews, soups, bolognese and any savoury dish. Broccoli also purees really well so if your baby has just started solids or you want a mashed potato alternative you can puree it in with other vegetables.
Unlike other oils coconut oil contains short term mediumchain saturated fatty acids, which is a “healthy” form of saturated fat.
It contains lauric acid, caprylic acid and capric acid which are proven to have antifungal, antibacterial and antiviral properties to help boost the immune system.
You can add coconut oil to baked goods, porridge and it can even be used as a substitute for butter on toast. It’s great for cooking meat and vegetables in too.
Blueberries are packed full of immune boosting nutrients. They are the highest source of antioxidants of
any fresh fruit. Blueberries are rich in vitamin C, which helps to ward off colds and flus. One serving of blueberries gives you 25 per cent of your recommended daily intake of vitamin C. They also contain vitamin E and A, are a source of copper (which is a proven immune builder and antibacterial), selenium, zinc and iron.
Blueberries are great as an easy snack on their own (just make sure to mush them for small babies so they don’t choke on them) or you can also add them to baked goods or on top of your breakfast.
Yoghurt contains “good bacteria” or probiotics that help to keep the gut and intestinal tract free of germs. Meaning your body remains strong and healthy and your immune system stays stronger to help fight off any nasty bugs over the winter.
Research has shown that people who consumed regular probiotics reduced the length and severity of their colds and flus, taking half as many sick days.
Make sure you look for brands with active cultures to get the most immune boosting benefits from eating yoghurt.
You can eat yoghurt on its own or use it as an alternative to cream on baked goods or in savoury dishes.
Garlic contains the active compound allicin. It is responsible for its characteristic odour and also has natural antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. Garlic also contains sulphur compounds, vitamin C and the mineral selenium which all are proven to help boost immunity.
You can make your own minced garlic for cooking really easily by putting fresh garlic cloves and a little olive oil in a food processor and whizzing it until smooth. In an airtight container it stores for ages in the fridge.
Carob or cocoa
According to a study at Cornell University cocoa contains almost twice as many antioxidants as red wine. It also contains between two and three times as many antioxidants as green tea and four to five times more than black tea.
Flavonoids in cocoa and carob also help to increase blood flow and oxygen to the brain.
I prefer to use carob in my cooking these days because cocoa contains caffeine which isn’t recommended for growing little bodies.
Carob is such a great alternative to cocoa. It is naturally sweet and contains three times as much calcium as cocoa. Other benefits include that it is high in protein, contains vitamins A, B, B2, B3 and D, is a good antioxidant and has proven results in the treatment of colds, flus and asthma.
Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamins and minerals to help boost immunity. They contain vitamins D, B6 and C. They are a source of iron — which is perfect for growing little bodies — and they are a good source of magnesium which is a proven anti-stress mineral.
Sweet potatoes are also is high in vitamin A, which particularly helps to keep the skin healthy. The skin is the body’s largest organ and is the first line of defence against bacteria and disease so healthy skin means more immunity against colds and flus and other germs.
Mushrooms might seem like a bit of a nothing vegetable but they are actually a major source of zinc which has been proven to boost the immune system. In addition to zinc, mushrooms are also high in B Vitamins, particularly niacin, riboflavin and pantothenic acid. They are also rich in selenium — an antioxidant that helps to protect cells from damage — and potassium.
I started eating lots of kale when I was pregnant. Per calorie kale contains more iron than beef and is also high in folate. Folate is not only essential during pregnancy and good for growing little bodies but it is also a proven immunity booster.
In addition to folate, kale is also extremely high in vitamin C. Kale contains close to four times the amount of vitamin C than spinach per 100g.
Kale can be eaten on its own or chopped and added to any savoury dish.
Like mushrooms, pepitas are rich in the immune-boosting mineral zinc. Zinc not only boosts the immune system but it
is also importa nt for regulating sleep, mood and eye and skin health.
In addition to zinc pepitas are also high in magnesium, omega 3s and have proven antiinflammatory properties. They contain vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, calcium, and iron.
I love munching on some pepitas just on their own but you can grind them up and add them to baked goods or savoury dishes. You can also sprinkle pepitas on top of your breakfast cereal or even on top of avocado on toast.