Healing foods for the immune system

The cold, damp autumn days can make us more vulnerable to the common cold and flu. These aliments can leave you feeling drained, achy and congested. This is why it’s important to support your body in the colder months by providing it with the right nutrients.

Here are seven of the best foods for cold and flu to include in your diet to strengthen your immune system and ease symptoms such as sore throats and chesty coughs.

#1 Citrus fruits

When it comes to boosting your immune system, vitamin C is your best friend. Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, grapefruits and tangerines are packed with this essential nutrient. Vitamin C is known for its ability to stimulate the production of white blood cells which are vital for fighting off infections. It can also help reduce the duration and severity of cold symptoms. So, load up on citrus fruits to keep your immune system in top shape.

Try this recipe: Immune-Boosting Tea

#2 Ginger

Ginger is a potent root with remarkable healing properties. It’s known for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, which can help alleviate symptoms of a cold or flu. Ginger can soothe a sore throat, reduce nausea and provide relief from congestion. Make a ginger tea or add it to soups, curries or smoothies.

Try this recipe: Apple, Ginger & Parsnip Soup

#3 Garlic

Garlic is a potent immune booster and natural antibiotic. It contains a sulphur-containing compound called allicin that has shown to enhance immune function and reduce the severity of colds and flu by stimulating the production of immune cells. Garlic also helps reduce inflammation in the body. Include garlic in your daily cooking by adding it to soups, stews, sauces and salads. To maximise its immune-boosting benefits, it’s best to crush or chop garlic and let it sit for a few minutes before using it in your recipes. This allows the allicin to fully form and provides you with the most potent protective compounds.

Try this recipe: Wild Garlic Pesto

#4 Honey

Honey has been used for centuries to alleviate cough and sore throat symptoms. Its natural sweetness and soothing texture help to coat and calm an irritated throat. Honey also has mild antimicrobial properties, making it a natural remedy for colds and flu. Opt for raw honey as it is not heated or pasteurised, meaning it preserves its nutrients and natural enzymes, compared to processed variants. Add a spoonful of honey to your hot drink or simply consume it as is for relief from cold symptoms. You can also add it to smoothies, yoghurt, breakfast oats or pancakes.

Try this recipe: Golden Latte

#5 Turmeric

Turmeric, with its active compound curcumin, has powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It can help reduce inflammation, alleviate cold and flu symptoms, and provide relief from sore throats and congestion. Curcumin aids immune cell production, particularly natural killer cells, which play an important role in identifying and eliminating pathogens and infected cells. You can add turmeric to your soups and stews, or even warm milk for a soothing, immune-boosting drink.

Try this recipe: Turmeric Quinoa Porridge

#6 Berries

Berries like blueberries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are nutritional powerhouses. They are loaded with antioxidants, such as vitamin C and flavonoids, which bolster your immune system and combat inflammation. They also provide dietary fibre for digestive health and essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin K, B6, potassium and manganese. This makes berries not only delicious but also a valuable addition to your diet, offering year-round support for your overall health and well-being.

Try this recipe: Mixed Berry Chia Jam

#7 Thyme

Thyme is not just a flavoursome herb for enhancing the taste of your favourite dishes; it also offers a plethora of health benefits. This aromatic herb is rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids and polyphenols, which help protect your cells from oxidative stress and inflammation. Thyme is renowned for its antimicrobial properties, making it a natural remedy for respiratory conditions like coughs, bronchitis and sore throats. It contains essential oils like thymol which can help relax respiratory muscles and improve breathing. Thyme is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C and iron, contributing to a strengthened immune system and enhanced overall well-being. Enjoy a thyme tea or incorporate it into your cooking.

This this recipe: Thyme Chickpea Crepes

Supercharge your immune system

While these foods can’t magically cure a cold or flu, they can certainly provide your body with the necessary nutrients and support it needs to fend off infections and recover more quickly. A diet rich in key vitamins, minerals and antioxidants like vitamin C can go a long way in strengthening your immune system. Combine these immune-boosting foods with adequate rest and hydration to maximise your body’s defence against the common cold and flu.

If you would like to learn more about becoming a Natural Chef or a Vegan Natural Chef, register for the next Open Event.