I love winter, but like many of you, I don't love the colds and flus that come with it! But fear not, because you have the ability to start strengthening your immune system now by making sure your foods contain antioxidants. Antioxidants can play an important role in the prevention of the common cold, and as they are found in a variety of foods it shouldn’t be too difficult to include them in your daily diet.
Antioxidants have been shown to be important for boosting the immune system, and so reducing the risks of illnesses and diseases such as cancer, and infections such as colds.
Antioxidants are best taken in the form of food. Forget about expensive supplements... Keep it simple. Eating a variety of different fruit and vegetables every day will allow you to meet your daily antioxidants needs! But if you want to get specific... Here are where you can get specific antioxidants:
Vitamin A and Carotenoids
These are found in carrots, squash, broccoli, sweet potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, peaches and apricots.
Vitamin C (also known as ascorbic acid)
Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons. Vitamin C is also present in bell peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kiwi fruit, strawberries, and potatoes.
Vitamin C is particularly good for strengthening the immune system and, therefore, helping to prevent colds, so these foods should be eaten often.
Foods rich in vitamin E are nuts, seeds, whole grains, green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil and liver oil.
Selenium is an antioxidant that helps boosts the body’s defenses against bacteria, viruses and cancer cells. Selenium can be found in nuts (specifically Brazil nuts), cereals, meat, seafood, fish, eggs, and garlic.
Bioflavonoids act as antioxidants, and are believed to enhance the absorption of vitamin C. They are beneficial in treating viral infections, so are useful in combating colds. Bioflavonoids can be found in fruit, vegetables, green tea, soy products, herbs and spices.
Zinc is also useful in treating a cold. Zinc can function as an antioxidant in the body, and it’s believed that sucking on zinc lozenges at the onset of a cold can help reduce its duration. Zinc is found in oysters, red meat, and poultry.
Eating probiotic rich foods like yoghurt is another way to prevent infection. The bacteria keep the gut healthy and help boost the immune system, so can help guard against a cold.
Here's a starting point for you... This soup is PACKED full of nutrients for healthy winter living!!! Not only will your immune system thank you... so too will your taste buds ;)
Time: 30 minutes (preparation & cooking)
2x2cm piece of ginger, shredded
4 large carrots, shredded
2x broccoli, florets & stalks roughly chopped
400g mushrooms, diced
1x eggplant, diced
10x stalks celery, chopped
1/2 pack of frozen peas
2x cans corn kernels
2 Tb extra virgin olive oil
1 L salt reduced liquid vegetable stock
1 L boiling water
1/2 C raw quinoa
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
2 tsp cinnamon
1 Tb turmeric
1 Tb paprika
1 Tb cumin
1 tsp cajun spice
Pop all the vegetables in a a large pot over high heat with olive oil, and let them cook for 5 minutes, stirring every minute or so.
Pour the stock and the water over the mixture, and stir well for another 5 minutes
Add the quinoa, and all the herbs and spices into the pot. Mix everything together well, and reduce to medium heat. Cover the pan.
After 10 - 15mins, turn off the heat.
Pour into your favourite bowl and Enjoy!
Joyce Haddad, Director of A Dietitian's Mission, is an Adelaide based Dietitian, Nutritionist and Master Personal Trainer with a passion for health and wellbeing. ADM aims to help the public make informed and realistic nutritional choices and ensure everyone has a healthy relationship with their body and with food.