Cold-fighting foods: what to eat to fight illness

Cold-fighting foods: what to eat to fight illnessGive yourself the best chance of fighting winter colds this year by eating the right foods.

With temperatures dropping and daylight dwindling, we think it’s safe to say winter is on its way, and what nasty stowaway typically comes with the winter season? The common cold. An illness we are yet to conquer with modern medicine, but one we can prevent by keeping our body stocked up on the right nutrients.

In order to fight colds, our bodies need an army of white blood cells. These blood cells are responsible for destroying illness and keeping our immune system in tip top condition.

To help boost both the number and activity levels of white blood cells, we need to eat the right nutrients, including the following:


This glorious mineral enhances the body’s T cells, a type of immune cell that helps create antibodies. You’ll find zinc in chicken, oats, brown rice, pumpkin seeds and seafood. Alternatively you could take a zinc supplement, just make sure you aren’t taking more than 45mg daily.

Vitamin C

A fantastic vitamin that enhances almost all areas of your immune system, vitamin C can be found in berries, peppers, kale, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.


These stimulate the phagocytic action of white blood cells, (the action taken when fighting viruses). You’ll find these helpers in garlic, chives, onions and leeks.

Olive leaf extract

This extract enhances both the numbers and action of white blood cells. Unfortunately you won’t find this in food, so you’ll need to source it from a supplement.

When it comes to meal planning, vegetable and chicken soups are highly recommended as they provide both nutrients and hydration. It is also advised that you avoid sugar as it can hinder white blood cell action. Finally, be sure to avoid any fasting/dieting as you won’t get the nutrients you need.

Find out what other issues nutrition can help with on our Nutrition Topics page.

View and comment on the original Telegraph article.

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Written by Kat Nicholls
Kat is a Content Producer for Memiah and writer for Nutritionist Resource and Happiful magazine.
Written by Kat Nicholls
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