Feel a cold coming on? Don’t sweat it – we’ve listed our Top 40 foods to help nourish and revitalise your body, and give your immune system a serious boost in the process. Combine with plenty of sleep and exercise for maximum effect.
1) Red Peppers
The jury is out on whether vitamin C consumption directly aids the curing of the common cold , but what has been proven is that dosing up on the antioxidant can significantly reduce the symptoms, strengthening the skin – your body’s first line of defence – and increasing antibody production. Red bell peppers contain almost twice the amount of vitamin C in most vegetables and fruits – including oranges – so try adding some fresh slices to a salad or whizzing up in a tasty gazpacho.
Formed from the nectar of the Manuka bush, this sweet treat native to New Zealand is sought-after for its anti-bacterial and anti-fungal properties, which can fight infection in the body. Some health experts claim that eating a couple of spoons a day promotes good digestion and rejuvenation during sleep too, while applying it directly to problem areas can help to combat conditions such as eczema, acne, ulcers, and accelerate the healing time of wounds and scars. We’re stocking up now!
Want to protect yourself from coughs, colds, flu, and other unpleasant illnesses? Try adding a couple of cloves of garlic – raw, if possible – to your evening meal. Garlic not only contains powerful toxin-battling antioxidants, it also hosts a naturally-occurring chemical called allicin, which reacts with the blood to create a product capable of killing off harmful bacteria and viruses. Just have the chewing gum on standby…
4) Green Tea
The Chinese have raved about the health benefits of green tea for centuries, and, hundreds of years later, it turns out they were spot on: the refreshing beverage is abnormally high in antioxidants. “Antioxidants protect the body from over-production of free radicals, which cause damage to proteins, fats, carbohydrates and DNA in the body,” says Dr Elisabeth Weichselbaum, an expert from the British Nutrition Foundation. Pick up a box from your supermarket and reap the benefits.
Not keen on garlic? Try onions– the pungent bulbs contain a powerful natural chemical called quercetin, which can boost the immune system’s defences against bacterial infections and viruses, reduce inflammation and bloating in the body, ease digestion and detoxify the blood. Add to this the lowering of cholesterol in the blood stream, the safe destruction of food poisoning bacteria E.coli and salmonella, and we’re all wondering why we don’t eat onions more often.
Ever wondered why Bugs Bunny never came down with the flu? We suspect his diet of carrots, carrots and more carrots may have had something to do with it. The orange vegetable contains high amounts of beta carotene, which is a powerful plant nutrient that boosts the immune system’s production of infection-fighting white blood cells. To get the most out of your carrots, eat them raw – try shredding a few over a tasty salad, or blend into a smoothie.
These slippery characters can do a lot more for the human body than simply boost your libido. Oysters are also one of the most potent sources of zinc you can find – a nutrient that helps infection-fighting white blood cells and other antibodies reproduce faster. It also makes your existing defences more aggressive so they have a better chance of beating the bug. Not keen on shellfish? Try zinc-rich wheatgerm, sesame, pumpkin seeds or dark chocolate.
8) Chilli Pepper
Aside from the fact that chilli is great for boosting the metabolism, a single pepper also contains a full day’s supply of beta carotene and twice your recommended daily allowance of vitamin C – an essential antioxidant that helps to battle toxins and foreign bodies in the blood stream. So ditch the buckets of orange juice, and opt for adding a spicy low calorie chilli to your meals instead. Not bad for the sinuses either if you’re blocked up with a cold…
Got a sore tummy? Along with peppermint, ginger is one of the best foods you can eat to aid digestion and fight inflammation in the stomach – which can even make for a flatter tummy if it’s consumed as part of a balanced, low-calorie diet. Ginger is also a powerful antioxidant, and can also help to stimulate your circulation, aiding detoxification, and cleanse the colon. Try slicing a small amount into a stir fry or opt for some ginger herbal tea for a great caffeine-free after-dinner drink.
Eating live, foreign bacteria may seem a little strange, but consuming the types of natural organisms found in yogurt can actually do your immune system the world of good. Natural, plain yogurt contains “good bacteria” that is essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, while some even help fight harmful bacteria like salmonella and even viral infections. Try to include a serving with your breakfast, or as part of a smoothie.