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7 foods to boost your immune system this winter

Everyone gets sick at this time of year, so it’s good to remember what foods will get you back on your feet. Here are our top foods to boost your immune system this winter.

When you're working or studying the last thing you need is a cold creeping up on you and disrupting your week. Rounding out your diet with plenty of vegetables and drinking water will keep your immunity running smoothly. Here are some ingredients that will bring the flu-fight to your food.

Garlic

You might not take a shining to the smell, but garlic contains allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. In Britain some researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or garlic extract for 12 weeks. The garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. There are other studies that suggest people who eat more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Just make sure you brush your teeth!

Sweet potatoes

Skin is one of the most important parts of our immune system, and is the first barrier to prevent disease. Sweet potato contains beta-carotene which your body then turns into vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue in the skin. Other foods rich in beta-carotene are carrots, squash, canned pumpkin and cantaloupe.

Mushrooms*

This makes me so happy because I put mushrooms on everything! Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells. They become more aggressive when fighting bacteria. Shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms pack the biggest immunity punch. (in season mushrooms* field, pine, slippery jacks)

Kiwi Fruit

Kiwi fruit is a great source of vitamin E! It helps protect your body from viral and bacterial infections. While the jury is still out on whether vitamin C helps boost immunity, it has more of it than most citrus fruits, including oranges – and that can't be a bad thing.

Also...

Yoghurt

While we usually try to keep our dairy intake to a minimum, the "live active cultures" in yoghurt are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. A study from the University of Vienna found that a 7-ounce dose of yoghurt daily is all you need to boost your immunity levels – and was just as effective as popping pills.

Oats and Barley

These have beta-glucan – a type of fibre with antimicrobial and antioxidant properties. Animals that eat this compound are less likely to contract influenza, herpes, and anthrax. In humans it boosts immunity, speeds up wound healing (amazing!) and potentially assists antibiotics in your system.

Tea

The way to my heart. People who drink 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood. The amino acid, Ltheanine, is in both black and green tea. Decaf versions also contain it.

What you can do

Buy local, fresh and in-season when you shop for fruit and veg

When you buy fruit and veg do the following: choose locally produced, in-season and fresh rather than frozen, don't use plastic bags and avoid any overpackaged items. Do this for a month then try to keep going.

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