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Immunity Boosting Foods for Winter

There is no more denying it - this recent change to cooler weather is a sure sign that the winter months are rapidly approaching. Pretty soon the cold winds will start to bring in those nasty germs that could leave you coughing and sniffling for weeks – unless, of course, you are taking all the right steps to prevent it! Listed below are some great foods to boost your immunity and fight the common cold and flu this winter.

Garlic
This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. You could chew two garlic cloves a day, or for a more palatable serving, we recommend adding crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.

Think Citrus
Contrary to popular belief, vitamin C does not actually prevent against the common cold and flu. However, this little super nutrient does pack an abundance of other health enhancing properties and has other vital roles, such as; the production of collagen, important for the support and structure of tissues and organs including the skin, bones and blood vessels, helps with wound healing, it increases the amount of iron we can absorb from plant sources, such as kale, broccoli and sprouts and is one of many antioxidants that may protect against damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals. Vitamin C cannot be stored in the body, therefore it needs to be consumed daily. Great food sources include kiwi-fruit, oranges, lemons, capsicums, berries, papaya and broccoli.

Green & Leafy
As well as being relatively low in calories, these little superfoods really do pack a powerful punch. Dark green leafy vegetables are an excellent source of fibre, folate, and carotenoids. These vegetables also contain vitamins C and K and the minerals iron and calcium. In addition, dark green leafy vegetables act as antioxidants in the body, which protect against the harmful effects of free radicals. Best food sources include; spinach, kale, broccoli, Swiss chard, mixed red and green leaf salad and cabbage. Why not have a flick through our Eat Well, Live Well – LifeShape Cook Book for some inspiration to include these vegetables into your everyday meals?

All Things Orange
Our parents weren’t kidding when they said ‘Eat your carrots or you’ll go blind!’ Carrots and other foods such as sweet potato, squash, cantaloupe and apricots are great sources of beta-carotene.  Beta-carotene is useful in preventing cataracts, and age related macular degeneration (AMD). Other known benefits of beta-carotene include the reduction of asthmatic symptoms caused by exercise; prevents certain cancers, heart disease,  alcoholism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, epilepsy, headache, heartburn, high blood pressure, infertility, Parkinson’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, schizophrenia, and skin disorders including psoriasis and vitiligo.

Selenium
Plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, selenium helps white blood cells produce cytokines—proteins that help deactivate flu viruses & clear toxins out of the body. Other great food sources of selenium include Brazil nuts, shiitake mushrooms, pinto beans, chia seeds, brown rice, broccoli, sunflower seeds, flaxseed and sesame seeds.

Zinc
Responsible for a range of different functions in the human body, Zinc helps stimulate the activity of 100 different enzymes. Specifically related to health, zinc has been found to regulate the immune system (activates T cells in the body), reduces the duration and severity of the common cold in healthy populations, plays a role in maintaining skin integrity and structure and prevents cellular damage in the retina, which helps in delaying the progression of AMD and vision loss. Great food sources, include; oysters, beef, lamb, wheat germ, spinach, pumpkin seeds, cashews, chickpeas and mushrooms. Cocoa is also a great source of zinc – the occasional low calorie hot chocolate never goes astray in winter!

Omega 3
This essential food property aims to reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting the lungs from colds and respiratory infections - particularly important for those asthmatics who are prone to attacks with rapid changes in temperature. Great food sources include oily fish (salmon, mackerel, tuna and herring), walnuts, flaxseed, canola oil and soybean oil. The Australian dietary guidelines recommend that we aim to consume two serves of oily fish per week to also reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Probiotics
Our gastrointestinal tract is full of life – it is home to 10 million+ bacterial cultures. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are often called "good" or "helpful" bacteria because they help keep your digestive system healthy. An imbalance between the “good” and the “bad” bacteria can occur after course of antibiotics, excessive levels of drinking, using the oral contraceptive pill or a change in your usual diet. As a result, digestive discomfort can result causing significant bloating, flatulence, change in normal bowel habits and even place a person at a higher susceptibility to certain infections and diseases. Great food sources of probiotics include fermented yoghurt (daily food) and soft cheeses (a sometimes food). We also recommend taking a full course of probiotics, like Inner Health Plus, following a course of antibiotics.

Turmeric
This everyday spice is a powerful medicine that has long been used in the Chinese and Indian systems of medicine to treat a wide variety of conditions. Specifically, turmeric is known to reduce chronic pain and inflammation in conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, manage mood and depression, lower blood glucose levels and reduce insulin insensitivity. Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric, a very strong antioxidant which has a marked ability to inhibit cancer cell growth and kill cancer cells as well. Turmeric makes for an excellent curry base (perfect for winter!) Or you can try adding it to scrambled eggs, roasted vegetables or even to soups!




 

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