The colder months are approaching as we now enter Autumn and you may be looking for foods to naturally boost your immunity to help keep you fit and healthy. Let’s explore what foods can help to boost your immune system as the weather gets colder.
Citrus fruits including lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits are high in vitamin C which helps to give your immune system a boost by encouraging the production of white blood cells to help fight infections. It is important to note though that the vitamin C in citrus fruits may help shorten the length and severity of a cold but they cannot prevent getting one completely. As well as supporting your immune system, citrus fruits can help to lower the risk of kidney stones and protect against cancer (2).
You have probably heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” - the skin of an apple contains a phytochemical called quercetin that helps to boost the immune system. As well as citrus fruits, did you know pears are high in vitamin C? Blueberries are a great fruit to add to the diet, they are a natural antihistamine to help minimize systems of runny and stuffy noses (3).
Did you know watermelons are beneficial for the immune system too? This refreshing fruit is rich in an antioxidant called glutathione that can help fight infections. Tip: eat the red pulpy flesh near the rind to make the most of glutathione (4).
Green vegetables are important to support a fully functioning immune system and a variety of greens can help from broccoli to bok choy! Spinach is known as a superfood because of its high amount of nutrients. It is rich in vitamin C as well as folate that can help to make new cells and repair DNA. Tip: eat raw or lightly cooked to get more nutrient benefit (4).
Mushrooms can play a role in a healthy immune system and reducing the severity of flu this Autumn and Winter. Mushrooms are high in the mineral selenium and it has been shown that you are more likely to get a more severe flu if you are low in selenium. This vegetable also contains riboflavin and niacin, types of vitamin B that play a role in a healthy immune system (4).
Sweet potatoes help to boost the immune system by containing high amounts of vitamin A (4) - to learn more about the benefits of sweet potatoes look out for our upcoming blog!
Variety is key with all aspects of our diet, no one food can provide all the micronutrients that the body needs. During the coming flu season make sure that you eat a balanced and varied diet to stay as healthy as possible (1).
Written by Jade Mottley - Sport Science BSc & Human Nutrition MSc