We all need to boost our immune system to defend ourselves from seasonal infections. A few changes to your diet may provide support to your natural defenses against viral respiratory infections:
The sunshine vitamin: crucial in fighting respiratory infections, Vitamin D is mainly obtained from sun exposure during the summer months, and our absorption from food is low. Many people may benefit from supplementing to increase their levels. It is worth checking for deficiency (convenient home test kits are available).Oily fish, eggs, mushrooms, dairy milk.
Antioxidants: They are essential to fight infections and protect your immune cells: so the more colours in your plate the better to boost your levels of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Selenium and Zinc. Fresh seasonal greens, orange and red vegetables, pulses, fruit, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.
Eat good quality protein with each meal to support your energy levels and their needs tend to increase due to infections. They supply with Vitamin B6, B12 and Iron. Seafood, poultry, lean red meat, eggs, nuts, wholegrains and pulses.
Choose warmer and nourishing food such as porridge, soups and slow cook stews. Eat your vegetables raw or lightly cook to maximize their antioxidant potential. The gut is key to immunity, so supporting digestion is crucial.
Cut back on stimulants such as caffeine, alcohol and refined sugar as they have a weakening effect on the immune system. A bit of red wine is fine though for its phenol. Drink plenty of herbal teas, including fresh ginger, thyme and rosemary.