Boost your immune system this winter – Part 1

Boosting our immune systems is the best way to avoid or reduce the effects of winter bugs. Our immune systems are beautifully created to ward off the dreaded lurgies, but when our diets are lacking in certain nutrients, our immune systems are compromised and are unable to function as they were designed to.  So load up on some immune boosting foods and ward of the nasties.  Buying fruit and veggies that are in season is cheaper, fresher, tastier and has a better nutritional value. 

Some winter Veg to stock up on:

Beetroot; broccoli; brussel sprouts; buttercup squash; butternut; cabbage; cauliflower; carrots; celeriac ; celery; eggplant; fennel; garlic; kumara; leeks; lettuce; mushrooms; onions; potatoes; pumpkin; radish; rhubarb; salad greens; silverbeet; spinach; swedes; turnip; watercress and yams.

Winter fruit:

Apples; grapefruit; lemons; kiwifruit; mandarins; oranges; pears; persimmons; tangelos; tamarillos.

Nutrients that enhance our immune systems:

Vitamin C is important in helping our bodies fight infection. It is an antioxidant which protects our immune cells and enables them to do their job of destroying bacteria.  The recommended daily intake for adults is around 45 mg, but this varies with age & whether a woman is pregnant or breastfeeding.  When we are unwell and our immune systems are working hard to fight off the infection, our requirements for Vitamin C are even higher. One orange contains 45 mg of vitamin C, a boiled kumara contains around 30 mg, ½ cup cooked broccoli 47 mg and our lovely kiwifruit pack a powerful punch with a fantastic 85mg!  Fortunately, vitamin C is water soluble, so whatever the body doesn’t need, it can easily eliminate, there is no danger of toxicity.

Vitamin A and its sidekicks, the carotenoids, keep the membranes of our respiratory system, our gastrointestinal system & our urinary system intact. Healthy membranes prevent bacteria from entering our bodies. This is our body’s first line of defence against bugs. Good sources are: Pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots, spinach, butternut squash, persimmons, cheese, milk, butter and of course the obvious one, liver.

Next month I’ll continue with the list of immune boosting nutrients.

By Paula Southworth

Nutritionist and Health Coach

(BSc Human Nutrition and Sports Science)