Prevent colds and flu in winter

with these top immune-boosting


(Q) I haven't had a cold or flu this winter yet (thank goodness) but on the train everyday commuters are coughing all over the place and my colleagues are coming into work sick. I really don't want to get a cold and can't afford to take any time off if I do. What would you suggest I do to boost my immune system as my Echinacea vitamins were ineffective last year?

 The best thing you can do to protect yourself from colds and flu this winter is to strengthen your immune system naturally with immune-boosting foods and nutritional supplements.

Raw garlic in the diet is very beneficial, however cooking garlic can destroy some of its health-promoting compounds. One way to get around this problem is to take Kyolic aged garlic extract. The natural ageing process increases antioxidant levels and enhances garlic's immune boosting powers. It also has the added benefit of being odourless.

Vitamin C is an extremely important nutrient for boosting immunity. Include plenty of foods high in vitamin C in the diet, including fresh fruits and vegies, especially citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, broccoli, cabbage and parsley. A vitamin C supplement is also recommended to ward off colds and flu, take around 2-3 g a day.

Zinc is another important mineral needed for healthy immune function. Zinc is found in foods such as red meat, chicken, fish, dairy foods, eggs, legumes and sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Taking a zinc supplement is also beneficial, around 45mg a day.

Spirulina is a type of sea algae that is considered a superfood due to its extraordinary health-promoting elements. Spirulina can stimulate immune function; it's anti-cancerous and rich in nutrients such as iron and selenium which act as powerful antioxidants in the body. Spirulina can be taken in capsule or tablet form (around 5g day, or add a teaspoon of powder to smoothies or juice).

More great immune-boosting foods that should be included in the diet include miso, ginger, garlic, onion, yoghurt, green tea and seaweed.

There are some key herbs that naturopaths and herbalists commonly use to strengthen the immune system and offer protection against colds and flu, including astragalus, andrographis, Echinacea and olive leaf.

A good healthy diet is fundamental to good health and a strong immune system. A majority of your diet should be made up of unprocessed, natural foods such as fresh fruits, vegies, legumes, wholegrains, nuts and seeds.

Having a well-balanced diet will supply you with all the essential nutrients your body needs for a healthy immune system such as zinc, vitamin A and C, selenium and iron.

Eat These Foods to Boost Your Immune System

Get more important vitamins on your plate

January 15, 2015 / By Kristin Kirkpatrick, MS, RD, LD


Want to fight off that illness that’s spreading around the office or your child’s school? Aside from practicing good hygiene, boosting your immune system is a great way to start.

Your diet plays a part in strengthening your immune system. Sadly, too many of us don’t eat enough of the fresh fruits, vegetables and other foods we need to keep ourselves healthy year-round. You can’t just eat an orange or grapefruit and expect one quick burst of vitamin C to prevent a cold. A truly healthy immune system depends on a balanced mix of vitamins and minerals over time, plus normal sleep patterns and a hefty dose of exercise.

With some exceptions, it’s best to get your vitamins and minerals from your food rather than in pill form. Here are some tips for getting the top vitamins your immune system needs to perform.


Vitamin C

You probably know about vitamin C’s connection to the immune system, but did you know you can get it from much more than just citrus fruits? Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale, bell peppers, brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya are also excellent sources. In fact, vitamin C is in so many foods thatmost people may not need to take supplements unless a doctor advises it.


Vitamin E

Like vitamin C, vitamin E can be a powerful antioxidant that helps your body fight off infection. Almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts and sunflower seeds are all high in vitamin E. So are spinach and broccoli if you prefer to increase your intake through meals rather than snacks.


Vitamin B6

This important vitamin — part of nearly 200 biochemical reactions in your body — is critical in how your immune system functions. Foods high in vitamin B6 include bananas, lean chicken breast, cold-water fish such as tuna, baked potatoes and chickpeas. Bring on the hummus!


Vitamin A

For vitamin A, go colorful. Foods that are high in colorful compounds called carotenoids — carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, cantaloupe and squash — are all great options. The body turns these carotenoids into vitamin A, and they have an antioxidant effect to help strengthen the immune system against infection.


Vitamin D

As mentioned above, it’s best to get most of your vitamins from food, butvitamin D may be the exception to that rule. You can increase your intake through foods such as fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines) and fortified foods such as milk, orange juice and cereals. Many people have a hard time absorbing vitamin D from food, so if you have a vitamin D deficiency, talk to your doctor about supplements.


Folate/folic acid

Folate is the natural form, and folic acid is the synthetic form, often added to foods because of its health benefits. To get more folate, add more beans and peas to your plate on a regular basis, as well as leafy green vegetables. You can also get folic acid in fortified foods (check the label) such as enriched breads, pastas, rice and other 100 percent whole-grain products.



Iron, which helps your body carry oxygen to cells, comes in different forms. Your body can more easily absorb “heme iron,” which is abundant in lean poultry such as chicken and turkey, plus seafood. But never fear, vegetarians: You can get other forms of iron in beans, broccoli and kale.



Selenium seems to have a powerful effect on the immune system, including the potential to slow the body’s over-active responses to certain aggressive forms of cancer. You can find it in garlic, broccoli, sardines, tuna, brazil nuts and barley, among other foods.



You can find zinc in oysters, crab, lean meats and poultry, baked beans (skip the kind with added sugar), yogurt and chickpeas. Zinc appears to help slow down the immune response and control inflammation in your body.

Bonus Tip: When You Can’t Eat Fresh, Eat Frozen

Depending on where you live and what time of year it is, you can’t always get your hands on high-quality fresh produce. Keep this in mind: Frozen is fine. Manufacturers freeze frozen fruits and veggies at “peak” ripeness, which means they’ll pack a similar nutritional value as their fresh counterparts. Just choose plain frozen foods rather than those with added sugars or sodium.


Adopt healthy-living



Your first line of defense is to choose a healthy lifestyle. Following general good-health guidelines is the single best step you can take toward keeping your immune system strong and healthy. Every part of your body, including your immune system, functions better when protected from environmental assaults and bolstered by healthy-living strategies such as these:

  • Don’t smoke.
  • Eat a diet high in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and low in saturated fat.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink only in moderation.
  • Get adequate sleep.
  • Take steps to avoid infection, such as washing your hands frequently and cooking meats thoroughly.
  • Get regular medical screening tests for people in your age group and risk category.


Food for Healthy Immune System:

A proper diet along with proper workout, will play a vital role in our well-being. You must always be keen to choosing the foods you eat.  Always select foods which are rich in nutrition and also which contain the essential minerals required for human body to survive. Avoiding specific foods like sugar and other processed foods, will help you to strengthen and develop your immune system. 

Cruciferous Vegetables for Sulforaphane:

Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, Bok Choy and Arugula are considered to be the members of Cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables are rich in vitamins A, C and E, which contain disease-fighting phytochemicals. Many of the health experts recommend including these cruciferous vegetables in your regular diet, as they are rich in fiber and minerals. These vegetables have various health benefits, like protect against cancer, reducing oxidative stress, and etc. Cruciferous vegetables contain “Sulforaphane”, which is considered to be the most important nutrient. This nutrient will boost the liver’s ability to flush out and detoxify all the carcinogens which will damage the cells in our body.


 Note: Maximum amount of Sulforaphane is offered by Broccoli. Hence, this vegetable must be consumed in several serving per week.

Fruits for minerals and vitamins:

Fruits are the powerhouse of essential minerals and vitamins. Fruits with more number of antioxidants enhances you immune system. Citrus fruits are considered to be the best sources when it comes to boosting our immune system. As they are a great source for Vitamin C which produces infection or disease-fighting antibodies, which prevents the entry of most of the viruses.

Kiwi is one of the best low-calorie fruit to boost your immune system. It is filled with Vitamin C as the main source of advantage. If you are maintaining a balanced diet, its very much essential to include fresh kiwi fruit shakes in your regular diet plan. This will help to strengthen your immune system. Fruits like oranges, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, grape fruit and guava are considered to be rich in antioxidants which will promote healthy immune system.

Note: Guava is a fruit which is an excellent source of skin-healing Vitamin C.

Fatty Fish for Selenium

Salmon, Mackerel and Trout come under the category of fatty fish. These foods are rich in selenium and omega-3 fatty acids. High amount of selenium in our body helps to reduce cancer. Where as Omega-3 fats will increase the activity of phagocytes(cells), and can eat up the bacteria to fight against flu. A recent survey says, pregnant women who consume loads of fatty fish can build up a good immune system of their babies. This will also help them to bring down the risk of allergies.

Red Meat

Meat is a good source of natural and essential nutrients that our body requires. Meat is a rich source of protein and provides amino acids, which help you to maintain a healthy body. Red Meat also contains iron and zinc, which contributes to the growth of immune system. Red Meat is a food which is rich in vitamin-B and Omega-3 fats. These things will help you to fight against all the diseases and boost your immunity system.

Nuts for Improved Immunity System

Nuts are the most tasty, healthy and nutritious foods. They have low saturated fat and are rich in protein, fibre and phytochemicals. These bite-size nutritional nuts are the best sources of Omega-3 fats, vitamin E and selenium, which contribute a lot to build up your immune system. Eating nuts like walnuts, almonds, pistachios regularly will lower the cholesterol levels and improves your immunity. Walnuts provides rich amount of Omega-3 fats, where as almonds are filled with vitamin E and pistachios are good source of fiber. If you sprinkle these three nuts in your salads, it will be a nutritional punch.

Seeds for Omega 3 Fats

Sesame, pumpkin, watermelon, sunflower and flax seeds are excellent sources of Omega-3 fats. These foods will help our body to autoimmune diseases like asthma and rheumatoid arthritis. They contain good amount of zinc, a front-line warrior. These seeds contain lots of essential minerals and vitamins which are required to our body. These seeds can be eaten raw, and can be cooked or baked. You can also sprinkle these seeds on your salads or muesli.

Pumpkins and Root Crops

Vitamin A is the most important nutrient our body requires. This nutrient keeps our eyes healthy and also promotes bone growth. One more important fact about Vitamin A is that, it acts like an antioxidant and fights against diseases  to keep our immune system strong. Root crops like carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, collards, and beet greens are the rich sources of vitamin A and have many nutritionals and health benefits. Pumpkin is the best food which has fewer calories and it is rich in vitamin A.

Healthy Herbal Tea

A survey by various health experts suggests that, consuming good amounts of tea and coffee can boost your immunity system. Tea is a pack of poly-phenols, and these are the compounds associated with increased antibacterial activity. Green tea is rich in poly-phenols and other antioxidants. This will contribute a lot to foster your immune system. Tulsi is one of the best herbal tea loaded with antioxidants. These two are the best types of tea which will increase our immunity.

Drinking tea helps our body to stop reacting to allergens like pollution and dust. Health experts suggest drinking 4 cups of green tea per day to help the immune system to function to its peak.

These are the foods for healthy immune system. Having these foods in you diet will give you loads of nutrients, minerals and antioxidants. These acts like a formidable armour and strengthen to your immune system. Maintain a diet chart which includes all these foods in proper proportions. You can also prepare few simple healthy recipes with these foods by making it more tasty and healthy.