The union of this winter’s flu season and the BA.5 COVID wave that’s just rolled in has led to an explosion of sniffles, fevers and chills.
With pharmaceuticals selling out daily and a shortage on supplies, there’s never been a better time to sharpen up your immune system. The gut-brain link has been well established, but did you know about the gut-immune link? Researchers have established a connection between the way we eat and how often – or how severely – we pick up infections. One study reveals the gut microbiome regulates the immune response to pathogens.
So, what does this mean? Essentially it means the age-old saying is true after all – you are what you eat. For long-term health, we know probiotic foods like yoghurt, kimchi and kefir are all solid options for getting your gut flora in order, but while a balanced diet is important for a strong immune system, there are actually a few powerful foods that boast anti-viral and antibacterial properties.
We’ve done the research and the results are in. Below are 5 of the best immune-boosting foods to load up on this winter.
Turmeric is a powerful anti-viral root veggie which was even purported to fight COVID-19 infection. The mystery compound responsible for its powerful properties is known as curcumin. One study found it reduced 50% of an infective dose when administered to the test subject. But it’s not just good for fighting colds, it makes for a fragrant curry!
Our tip: Fresh turmeric is best for its curcumin content – take note that not all powdered turmeric brands boast the same amount of this immunity-boosting chemical.
Ginger is the classic go-to for many when it comes to cold and flu symptoms, but you may not know this root is teeming with antiviral properties. Research shows it may help reduce the likelihood of infection, and also decrease the severity of symptoms like congestion and nausea.
Our tip: Gently boil up some ginger in a pot of water, add some lemon, and there you have a powerful, cold-busting drink. If you have a sweet tooth, you can even try adding some ginger to your chai latte.
3. Black Cumin
Also known by its scientific name, Nigella Sativa,this nutritional powerhouse is the secret weapon you’ll want to have at the ready. Why? Not only is it packed with antibacterial and antiviral properties, studies have found it to also be effective against cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and parasites. Thymoquinone is the active compound to thank for these benefits – and the reason you should consider stocking up on this versatile seed on your next grocery trip.
Our tip: Drop this fragrant spice into a warming winter soup. Known for its strong taste, it helps to test the waters by diluting it into a larger meal.
4. Green tea.
You’ve probably read many articles hailing the benefits of antioxidant-packed green tea with its anti-inflammatory properties. It’s no surprise then that this beverage can help you keep the sniffles to a minimum this winter. How does it work? The antioxidants target free radicals and bacteria, along with cutting down congestion for those already knee-deep in tissues. One study found a green tea mouthwash reduced 64% of bacteria present. while it may not prevent infection, this warming tea can reduce the severity of symptoms.
Our tip: To take it one step further, we recommend you pick up some matcha powder instead – it boasts 3 times the antioxidant content of green tea, and has a stronger flavour too, making it a great ingredient for baking or cooking. If you’re in need of quality recipes, don’t forget to check out our Sugar-Free Baking Cookbookfor meals with all of the taste and none of the sugar.
5. Citrus fruits.
Any list of immune-boosting foods would be incomplete without citrus fruits like oranges and lemons. Many chug orange juice daily to try to combat the flu season, while others reach for the honey and lemon to soothe a cold, and while you may be surprised to learn that oranges have 3 times less vitamin C than capsicum, they still are a strong contender. Lemons, for example, have antiviral properties and recent research shows this citrus fruit significantly boosts immunity and was more effective than all other test subjects – including chamomile and shallots – in combating pathogens.
Our tip: Try oatmeal with a squeeze of orange juice and add some cinnamon and cardamom for extra benefits – and a winning flavour combo.
While these foods will give your immune system that much-needed boost this winter, staying healthy is also about the foods you don’t eat. One of the biggest culprits when it comes to destroying your immunity is – you guessed it – sugar. Research shows sugar spikes can suppress the immune response, and it only takes about 75 grams to take effect. To put that into perspective, there’s around 39 grams of sugar in a can of coke.
If you’re sick (pun intended) of mental and physical issues caused by sugar, join us for our 8-Week Program here at I Quit Sugar. We’ll be cutting out sugar and bringing back health and happiness in our lives. Keen to receive exclusive recipes, meal plans and support from our team of experts, then sign up HERE.
CLICK HERE to download our FREE 5-Day Immune Support Reboot Meal Plan and Guide to help you through this winter.