My personal training clients in London are always asking what they should eat, and I encourage them to focus on their nutrition just as much as their exercise regime.
Here’s my list of 8 super-foods to keep the colds and flu at bay this winter:
Foods rich in vitamin C help boost your immune system. Oranges are a great choice, but also rich in vitamin C are blueberries, lemon juice and lime juice, which you can squeeze into a glass of water to drink between meals.
As well as being a great way to spice up your meals, ginger is a strong antiviral food, thanks to a group of chemicals called sesquiterpenes. You can also chew some raw ginger after a meal, as it helps with digestion.
3. Live natural yoghurt
The ‘good-bacteria’ in live natural yoghurt helps keep your gut healthy and aids digestion, and the better your digestion the more essential nutrients you will absorb into your system. No need to buy those expensive mini-bottles of live yoghurt, just get big tubs from the supermarket and have some at breakfast.
The more nutrients you absorb, the stronger your immune system will be.
Oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel, are rich in omega 3 fatty acids (part of the polyunsaturated fats group) which have many valuable roles in the body including help in the production and function of a special group of white blood cells known as NK cells (natural killer). NK cells hunt down and kill viruses in your lymphatic system.
The more NK cells you have, the more resistant you will be to colds & flu. So eat your oily fish, ideally 2 portions a week.
I recommend 3 brazil nuts a day. They’re extremely high in the trace mineral selenium, which strengthens your immune system. Don’t eat more than 3 a day as too many might keep you awake at night – a side effect of consuming excess selenium. A little goes a long way.
One of my personal training clients in Kensington had trouble sleeping, and I when I asked her to keep a detailed food diary, I discovered she snacked on brazil nuts before bed. After she cut down to 3 a day, in the morning, she slept much better.
Rich in zinc, manganese and vitamin E, pumpkin seeds are a great way to boost your immune system. Sprinkle some on your natural yoghurt at breakfast, or eat them as a snack between meals.
Organic chicken bone broth
Keep the carcass of an organic chicken and boil it up in a large pan of water, then simmer for an hour, topping up with boiling water from the kettle from time to time.
The bone marrow, cartilage, and collagen will all break down into the protein gelatin. Gelatin is rich in amino acids, calcium, phosphorus, sulphur and magnesium. All these nutrients will help boost your immune system.
When it’s simmered for an hour, drain the liquid into a large heat-proof bowl, allow to cool, and store in the fridge to use as a nutrient-rich stock, or drink as broth.
Garlic (and onions too) contain an immune-boosting compound called allicin, which boosts antibody response and helps the body fight microbes.
I advise my London personal training clients to keep a jar of crushed garlic in the fridge, and add it to whatever meal they’re cooking.
Dominic Londesborough is a personal trainer in London with over 12 years’ experience.