The immune system needs a cocktail of around 20 different micronutrients (vitamins, minerals and plant chemicals) daily for protection against viral threat. Whilst many of these are present in a good and healthy balanced diet, there are some in particular that can seriously boost our defences during the time of the year when we are most likely to fall prey!

Here’s How - Shopping Basket Essentials

slices of watermelon on wooden table

Watermelon is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and selenium, all of which are well-documented as top grade immune boosters. Include it in smoothies (seeds included) or have a mix of melon slices as a snack.

Berries provide a wealth of protective plant chemicals known as flavonoids. Top your breakfast cereal or porridge with a selection of berries, the darker the colour, the richer they are in flavonoids.

Peppers (red, yellow, orange, green) are super-rich in vitamin C which is an extremely powerful antioxidant which not only protects us against heart disease, circulatory problems and some cancers but has also been shown to stimulate the production and function of white blood cells that attack viruses. Eat them raw in salads or roast them with other vegetables.

Wheatgerm is a great source of vitamin E. Studies show that good levels of vitamin E lower the risk of contracting upper respiratory tract infections, especially the common cold. Sprinkle wheatgerm flakes onto salads or breakfast, add to savoury dishes or blend with fruit and vegetable juices for a tasty smoothie.

Watercress provides high levels of plant chemicals known as glucosinolates which give it its unique peppery flavour and in scientific studies have been shown to increase the body’s potential to resist attack from disease-causing agents. Include it in soups, smoothies and salads.

Red chillies are rich in the compound, capsaicin which gives them their ‘heat’ and has been shown to significantly enhance immune status. Great in curries, Thai dishes, stews and stir fries either fresh, dried or as Tabasco sauce.

Celery is not only extremely hydrating but is also a great source of fibre which helps the efficient and healthy digestion of essential nutrients and elimination of immune-impairing toxins. Eat it raw or fill a couple of sticks with nut butter for a filling snack and benefit from the addition of the protective fats and protein from the butter.

Shellfish are a rich source of iron (good levels of which can help to limit or prevent infections) and omega 3’s - body cells rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help to protect our DNA from damage.

What to limit or avoid: Anything that creates stress within the body (too much sugar, too few vegetables, too much or too little exercise, a diet rich in processed foods and chemically-altered fats, lack of sleep, poor digestion, ongoing medication) affects the production and efficiency of neutrophils (white blood cells) which play a crucial role in our defence against disease. A strong immune system depends on the body being able to put up a strong defence.

What to do BEFORE a Virus takes you Down - 7 Ways To Stop a Cold Dead in Its Tracks

3d Illustration of Zinc mineral Capsule dissolves in the stomach
  • Immediately you get the merest hint of a cold, take 3 grams of vitamin C and then 2 grams every 4 hours (or 3 times a day).  Make sure you take a dose before you go to bed.  Alternatively, mix 6 grams of vitamin C powder in fruit juice diluted with water and drink throughout the day.  Some people prefer to use Calcium Ascorbate, a less acidic form of vitamin C
  • Also supplement other immune boosting nutrients, especially vitamins A and E, selenium and zinc. Zinc lozenges have been shown to lessen the duration of colds at a dose of 10-15 mg every two hours (NB: they can make you feel a little nauseous)
  • Eat lightly, preferably relying mainly on fruits and vegetables, including those rich in vitamins A and C - carrots, beetroot, peppers and citrus fruits
  • Reduce or avoid mucus-forming foods, particularly fatty meats and cows milk products.  These make your lymphatic fluid thick, which is the main transport system for immune cells which carry invading viruses to lymph nodes for further punishment
  • Avoid alcohol, cigarettes, tea and coffee.  Drink plenty of water and herb/fruit teas
  • Take it easy.  Do everything slowly and avoid stressful situations (if you can!)  Get some rest and plenty of sleep
  • Once you think you’ve won, wait at least 24 hours then cut the vitamins down to 1 gram of vitamin C three times a day and one immune boosting supplement in the morning. Once you have been well for 3 days go back to your normal supplement programme.

What to do When a Virus HAS Taken you Down

Ginger powder and grated in the spoon with the root and leaves

You know a bad cold or a mild bout of flu is not life-threatening, you also know there is no known cure so all you can do is cope the best you can while your body fights the virus and that takes time - time you probably don’t have. Many food remedies have been providing symptomatic relief for centuries and some now even have scientific research behind them indicating that perhaps great granny and ancient healers knew a thing or two!

Those that have earned their stripes on the anti-viral, immune-boosting front and are associated with reducing the duration of colds and flu include garlic, onions, chicken broth, chilli and peppers, ginger, Shiitake mushrooms and fermented soya products.

SO, START TODAY BY GETTING SOME OR ALL OF THE ABOVE FOODS AND TACTICS INTO YOUR LIFE AND BENEFIT FROM A PROTECTIVE BOOST!

Additionally, you may wish to consider a supplemental boost. Try Nutri Superfood Plus - Chocolate Flavour AND you may wish to try their protein balls recipe as a splendid little immune-boosting snack - you will find the recipe video on the link page! You can also call and get a sample (0800 212742 option 1).