Written by Lisa Guy, naturopath and founder of Bodhi Organic Tea -
The best way to fight off colds and flu this winter is to bolster your immune defences with some fabulous immune boosting foods and teas.
Adding garlic to meals is one of the best ways to ward off colds and flu. Garlic contains potent immune strengthening and anti-viral compounds.
To get the most out of your garlic, crush it first and don’t over cook it. Raw is best.
Eat a variety of vitamin C rich fruits such as oranges, lemons, kiwi fruit and berries.
Vitamin C is a powerful immune enhancer with anti-viral action, which will help protect you from coming down with a cold or flu this winter.
Ginger is a lovely warming spice that has been used by Chinese herbalists for over 2,500 years to treat colds. Ginger has the ability to stimulate the immune system.
Ginger can activate T-cells, which are a critical part of our immune defenses. These white blood cells destroy cells infected by viruses. Ginger can be drunk as a tea, try Bodhi Organic ZesTEA, or added to veggie juices, stir-fries, salads, smoothies, or sauces.
Try adding some manuka honey to ginger tea for a lovely soothing anti-inflammatory effect for sore throats.
Echinacea is a highly effective immune boosting herb commonly prescribed by naturopaths and herbalists to prevent and treat colds and flu, and increase the body’s resistance to infection. These can be enjoyed as a tea, or a tincture. Try Bodhi Organic ImmuniTEA.
Shiitake mushrooms have been extensively studied for their many healing and immune boosting properties. A compound found in this mushroom, called lentinan, has been found to be a most powerful immune strengthener and ‘restorative’.
Lentinan enhances the immune system’s ability to combat infections and disease.
Soak dried mushrooms for around 30 minutes, and then add thin slices to dishes such as soups, stir-fries, or casseroles.
Miso is a highly nutritious food that contains numerous health-promoting benefits.
Unpasteurised organic miso contains active lactobacillus, a bacteria beneficial for improving digestion and strengthening the immune system.
Beneficial bacteria like that found in miso help promote the proliferation of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the bowel, which plays a big role in our immune health.
The beneficial bacteria present in unpasteurized miso are killed by prolonged cooking at high temperatures, so add miso to preparations just before removing them from the heat.
Seaweed is a highly nutritious superfood that contains extraordinary health-promoting compounds. Seaweed helps boost the immune system and reduces the risk of cold and flu. There are many different types of seaweed including kelp, nori, and arame, which you can purchase from health food stores and supermarkets.
Use a variety of herbs and spices when cooking which are rich in antioxidants and help support your body’s natural immune defenses. Turmeric, thyme, chilli, oregano, coriander, and ginger are all excellent choices.
Vitamin D - “the sunshine vitamin” - is heralded as being important for boosting our immunity. Without sufficient vitamin D we are more vulnerable to illness and chronic disease. Sunlight is the easiest and healthiest way to get sufficient vitamin D.
During winter you should try and get 2-3 hours of sunlight a week, on the face, arms and hands. It can be difficult in winter to get adequate vitamin D from sunlight so it is recommended that you increase your intake of vitamin D rich foods such as eggs (yolk), fish liver oil (cod liver oil) and oily fish (salmon, trout, mackerel, and sardines).
Milk such as cow’s, soy and rice are also fortified with vitamin D.
Supplementation is recommended for people who have low vitamin D status, take around 1000 iu of vitamin D3 daily.