Top 10 ways to boost the immune system

The common cold affects almost everyone at some point. The changing of the seasons sees a lot of us suffering with the coughs, sore throats, sneezing and runny noses that characterise the common cold. Less common is the flu, which is also a viral infection but leaves us with no energy and feverish.

There is no real cure for colds and flu, but there are many ways that we can help to prevent and reduce the symptoms. As well as keeping warm and drinking lots of fluids, we can eat certain foods to give us a boost of the best nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties to boost our immune systems and keep us healthy throughout the season.

1 – Oranges

Oranges are a great fruit to have on standby and snack on during the day. High in vitamin C, they help to boost immunity and help fight colds and flu.

2 – Red peppers

Did you know that red peppers have almost three times more vitamin C than oranges? Easy to snack on raw or add to meals, they give a powerful boost of anti-oxidants to help ward off winter illnesses.

3 – Kale

Kale is not only high in vitamin C but also other essential immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin A and copper to keep you healthy.

4 – Broccoli

Green leafy vegetables like broccoli are an ideal food to eat to incorporate into your daily diet to get a good dose of immune-boosting nutrients and gut-loving fibre. The phytochemicals in broccoli give an additional immune-boosting kick.

5 – Garlic

Garlic has been found to help prevent colds and flu, and to also reduce the severity. This is thought to be due to the active compound allicin, which is activated when garlic is crushed or chewed.

6 – Ginger

Ginger has many medicinal properties, one of which is helping to fight the common cold. It contains a bioactive compound called gingerol which has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, and is responsible for ginger’s medicinal qualities and super-food status. 

7 – Turmeric

Turmeric is closely related to ginger. The active compound curcumin is a strong antioxidant with powerful anti-inflammatory effects which help to boost the immune system. Curcumin is absorbed better in the body when the turmeric is combined with black pepper.

8 – Green tea

Studies have shown that green tea can kill bacteria and help to inhibit cold and flu viruses, so drink a green tea a day to keep the doctor away.

9 – Chicken soup

The age-old remedy of eating chicken soup when you’re ill is not just an old wives’ tale, it has got science to back it up. The heat, salt and hydration that hot soup provides helps our bodies with the recovery process, but it is also thought that the anti-inflammatory properties of chicken soup can have a beneficial effect on common cold infections.

10 – Probiotics

Probiotics are known for their health benefits, improving digestion and helping to protect against food poisoning, but they may also play a part in preventing and reducing the symptoms of the common cold. A 2013 study found that probiotics had an effect on the prevention and reduction of the common cold.

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