5 Foods To Boost Immunity This Winter

With the colder months on our doorstep comes the promise of cosy nights in front of the TV, hearty meals at the dinner table and potentially a greater susceptibility to the common cold and flu. But are we really more prone to getting sick during Winter? We sat down with local Accredited Practising Dietitian Georgia Rosetto from Launceston Dietetics to debunk a few myths and share her top five foods for boosting immunity this Winter.

“You can’t really boost or supercharge your immune system”, says Georgia, “but you can support it by choosing certain foods as well as other lifestyle factors like getting enough sleep, managing stress and exercising adequately.” It’s not necessarily the colder weather that may increase our risk of catching something, but rather the fact we’re indoors more often and in closer proximity to others. This gives viruses the opportunity to spread more easily.

So how can we optimise our immune function to fight off a virus more effectively? Enjoy a varied and nourishing diet that includes the following five foods:

Nuts
Nuts contain a bunch of elements that our immune system utilises to function properly including protein, zinc, copper, iron, selenium and Vitamin B6. Georgia recommends a handful of different nuts each day (walnuts, brazil nuts, pecans, almonds…etc) so we are maximising variety throughout the week.

Berries
Berries are a good source of Vitamin C, another essential nutrient for the immune system, together with dark leafy greens, tomatoes and broccoli.  Rather than supplementing with pills or vitamins, Georgia suggests eating vitamin rich foods where possible, as these are a much better way to absorb nutrients.

Onions/Garlic
Foods that promote good gut health like prebiotics can help our bodies to function better and enhance our immune system. Prebiotic containing foods such as onions, garlic and even oats feed the healthy microbes living in our gut.

Sun-tanned mushrooms
Vitamin D levels can drop in the winter months – particularly in Tasmania. Eating lunch outside or going for a midday walk can help boost Vitamin D absorption. A fun way Georgia suggests to get an extra top up of Vitamin D is to consume mushrooms which have been exposed to sunlight. How? Put store-bought mushrooms (with gills facing up) in direct sunlight for 15 minutes in the middle of the day before adding to your dish of choice.

Eating enough
Not an ingredient, but (in her words) the most important of Georgia’s tips is to make sure we are eating enough quality foods and eating regularly. Dieting or restrictive eating can result in reduced immune function, increasing our susceptibility to viruses and poor wound healing. “Making sure you are getting enough fuel for your body to run optimally is just as important as making sure you are getting enough vitamins, minerals, sleep and sunshine!” Georgia adds.

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