We’re deep into cold and flu season here in Australia, so what can we do to avoid the dreaded lurgy? Aside from wearing masks in public or avoiding enclosed places, there are a few more social-friendly things we can do—like adding certain foods to our diet.
The humble sweet potato is packed with Vitamin A. Why is this important? Vitamin A plays an essential role in maintaining our mucosal surfaces. Sounds gross, but these surfaces in our nose and digestive tract are critical points where germs can infect the body. Keeping them healthy is keeping your defences up!
Yoghurt or kefir
Yoghurt is an excellent source of probiotics, the ‘good’ gut bacteria. If you look really, really closely, you will see both Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains in yoghurt. Jokes, you need a microscope for sure.
Healthy gut bacteria is not only essential for fighting off cold and flu but also critical for alleviating the symptoms if we’ve already caught it.
Let’s talk about yoghurt’s more obscure cousin kefir for a moment. Kefir is similar to yoghurt but cultured with kefir grains, so it carries slightly different bacteria. These bacteria are also good at fighting off illness.
The cold and flu classic, garlic! It’s garlic’s active ingredient allicin which holds its antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Make sure you’re adding the real deal to your diet, not capsules or other supplements, as the allicin in fresh garlic is more bioavailable.
This might seem like an odd choice, but eggs are chockers with zinc. Zinc is said to help with alleviating cold and flu symptoms, so crack out those eggs (pun very much intended) as soon as you start to feel a little off. Try them poached, boiled, scrambled or fried, whichever way you eat them you’ll get the benefits of zinc.
Oily fish like salmon and sardines are a great addition to your cold and flu defence arsenal because they are full of omega-3 fatty acids which support the body’s T-cells. T-cells track down and kill cells that are infected with germs. Go T-cells!
If fish doesn’t sound tasty, how about some oysters? Oysters are another excellent source of zinc and as a bonus will give you a boost of Vitamin C.
Turmeric is a spice traditionally used in Ayurvedic medicine and has become known for its anti-inflammatory properties in recent years. Turmeric’s active ingredient, curcumin, is a polyphenol, a compound shown to have impressive cold and flu-fighting properties.
This slightly aniseed-tasting veggie if full of Vitamin C, known for its bacteria and virus-fighting properties. Add more fennel to your diet now as a proactive step in avoiding getting sick in the first place.
Ginger contains active ingredients which are known to be anti-inflammatories and have anti-nausea effects. Ginger is an excellent preventative but also helps if you’ve already been knocked down with a cold or flu. Try infusing ginger in boiling water and adding some honey for sweetness.
Dark leafy greens
Greens like kale, spinach, rocket and Swiss or rainbow chard are super sources of cold and flu-fighting Vitamin C. Eat your greens to avoid getting sick in the first place, but also eat them if you’re already showing symptoms—Vitamin C has been shown to shorten the duration of a cold.
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