Boost your immune system to warn off coughs and colds

Its that time of year when everyone starts to pick up coughs and colds and feel under the weather.  Although colds are viral infections we can all benefit from including health-boosting foods to help prevent catching the bugs! Here are my top tips:

Include plenty of vegetables into your daily diet, different coloured vegetables contain different nutrients and antioxidants, so try and vary your intake. Try garlic, onions tomatoes, butternut squash, broccoli, spinach and cabbage. You could make a quick tasty stir-fry or a warming stew in the slow cooker.

Try a tasty vegetable soup for lunch, make your own or use a shop bought carton of fresh soup such as chicken and vegetables or spicy tomato.

Include some berries, such as blueberries, raspberries and blackberries, fresh or frozen are both good, add them to your porridge or top your favourite Greek yoghurt with a generous handful. Berries and other fruit such as kiwi and oranges have a high vitamin C and antioxidant content and help to boost our immunity.

Include some chillies in your diet, labelled as antibacterial, anticarcinogenic as well as high in antioxidants and flavonoids, these help add flavour and a touch of spice to warm you up. As well as chillies its worth including garlic, ginger and spices to your weekly diet.

Make sure you stay hydrated, its recommended that we drink around 6-8 glasses of fluid a day. Water is a perfect drink as it contains no sugar or sweeteners.

Don’t drink too much coffee/tea or alcohol each day, too much, i.e. more than 4 cups of coffee/tea a day or more than 2-3 units of alcohol a day all adds extra strain on our bodies and therefore affects our immune system.

Be careful not to eat too much sugar, we should have no more than 30g of sugar a day, that's equivalent to 7 teaspoons. When we consider sugar is added to many daily foods such as cereal, beans, bread as well as the more obvious cakes and biscuits it's important we keep an eye on our intake to help our body function as well as possible.

Try and include some gut-friendly foods, information is emerging which suggests if we look after our gut health by consuming a diet with a wide variety of different foods and some extra gut friendly foods such as Kefir, natural yoghurt and ferment foods such a Sauerkraut, this helps boost our gut health and immune function.

Finally, make sure you get enough sleep, we can’t expect our bodies to work well and fight off all the winter bugs if we are not allowing ourselves enough time to rest and sleep. Try and relax in a bath or by listening to a favourite tune and make sure you get to bed at a reasonable time. Most adults need between 7-9hours sleep each night to help brain and body repair and function correctly and help improve our wellbeing.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Nutritionist Resource are reviewed by our editorial team.

Share this article with a friend
Leeds LS20 & LS18
Written by Dr Lisa Gatenby, RNutr PhD MMedSci BSc (hons) FHEA
Leeds LS20 & LS18

I am a registered nutritionist with a PhD in nutritional intakes and a masters of medical science in human nutrition. I love food and believe that we can all enjoy a diet which can promote health and optimise nutritional intakes. I am also a qualified Chef and use these skills to help people on their healthy eating journey.

Show comments

Find a nutritionist dealing with Healthy eating

All nutrition professionals are verified

All nutrition professionals are verified