Does your diet leave you exposed to infection? As the season for coughs and colds approaches, it’s time to rethink what you’re eating and drinking. Here’s a list of some of the best immunity-boosting foods, herbs and teas out there. Incorporate as many of these delicious goodies into your daily diet as possible to give your body the best possible chance of fighting back against infection.
Foods to Fight Infection
A naturally occurring chemical in the skin of this nut has been found to give a long-lasting boost to the immune system. Almonds may help white blood cells detect viruses and enable the body to fight off colds and ‘flu .
You’ve heard the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, and today this claim is backed by scientific evidence. It is believed that soluble fibre, found in abundance in apples, has anti-inflammatory properties and helps the body heal faster from infection .
There was a good reason for being told to eat your greens as a kid. The immune system naturally declines as you age. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli are believed to actually slow down that natural decline so that your immune system stays as strong as possible .
Jam-packed full of vitamin C, citrus fruits are delicious as well as nutritious. Fruits like limes, oranges, and lemons have been used for centuries to prevent scurvy and were must-haves on long naval voyages. For variety and flavour, also eat regular helpings of grapefruits, mandarins, pineapples and clementines .
Coconuts and Coconut Oil
Coconut and coconut oil are packed full of lauric acid, which is believed to have antimicrobial properties . This makes it helpful in improving white blood cell counts and fighting bacterial infections.
This small green fruit is packed full of immune-boosting nutrients. As well as having an awesome vitamin C content, it also contains polyphenol antioxidants which will help your immune system work at its best well into old age. It’s no surprise that studies have found kiwi fruits to produce beneficial immune responses, superior to vitamin C supplementation alone .
Red Bell Peppers
These sweet, red vegetables stand out from the crowd for their phenomenal vitamin C content. Just one pepper contains around 150 milligrams of this immune-boosting vitamin C .
This trusty green can be relied on to help keep your immune system functioning at its best. As well as being a great source of vitamins A, K, B2, B6, C and E it is also packed with folate, manganese, magnesium and iron. The antioxidant properties of spinach can help shield your cells from environmental damage.
There is evidence  that increased yogurt consumption, particularly amongst the elderly and other immune-compromised individuals just might help increase resistance to immune-related disease. More research is needed but for now here’s a great excuse to add a bit more natural yogurt to your grocery list.
Resistance-Boosting Herbs and Spices
This plant is well known for its immune- boosting qualities and has been used as a herbal remedy in its native North America for centuries. Studies have found that consuming echinacea every day can significantly decrease the chances of healthy adults catching a cold .
This spice has rightly earned its reputation as a superstar in the immune-boosting line-up. Although some claims (such as warding off vampires and keeping the plague at bay) may have been overstated, it is accepted today that garlic may help fight off colds and kill bacteria and parasites .
On a cold winter night, what could be more comforting than the warming aroma of fresh ginger? This delicious, sweet spice also happens to possess antibacterial properties. It has been used as a herbal remedy for centuries thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. Could there be a tastier way of spicing up your body’s natural immunity?
This root is known to repair the stomach lining and restore balance after damage to the digestive system. Less well known are its anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties, largely thanks to the glycyrrhizic acid found in abundance in liquorice .
The leaves of this tasty herb are widely used in folk medicine thanks to their wide range of immune-boosting properties. Oregano is known to fight against a wide variety of ailments including the common cold, flu, and fatigue .
Spice up your immune system with this big-hitter in the health-boosting collection. Turmeric, which gives curry its yellow color, is best known for its anti-inflammatory powers. But research now shows that it may also be a potent immunodulatory agent which can also enhance antibody responses .
Teas to Boost Immunity
This awesome tea is one of the oldest herbal remedies known to man. It has been used to fight a variety of ailments from insomnia to hay fever for thousands of years. Chamomile tea is also believed to be effective at fighting common colds and sore throats .
This lesser-known tea has been enjoyed as a natural remedy from time immemorial. In particular, it has been used to relive stomach problems and constipation. Dandelion is also known to increase red blood cell counts, and in traditional Chinese medicine it is used to help treat upper respiratory tract infections .
You’d have to have been hiding under a rock for the last 50 years to not have heard of the health-giving qualities of green tea. These benefits may come from its high antioxidant content. But there is so much more to green tea than just mopping up free radicals. It has also been proven to act as an antiviral and antifungal agent. The polyphenols found in green tea are also known to rejuvenate age-affected immune functions .
Holy Basil Tea
Also known as tulsi, holy basil is an Indian herb, used in traditional Eastern medicine for its health-boosting properties. It has long been known for promoting wellbeing and resilience. Today, research has confirmed that it has many anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral properties .
Don’t you love the soothing scent of this beautiful herb? Lavender is best known for its calming effects and its ability to help promote sleep. But it can also have powerful antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. Research backs up the claim that lavender tea helps modulate the immune system .
Known to aid digestion and cure bad breath, mint tea is also thought to help fight a number of ailments including the common cold, coughs, sore throats, and a number of infections .
Variety – The Best Medicine
It’s easy to fall into habits of eating and drinking a pretty small range of foods and beverages. But to give your body the best chance of resisting illness, you should aim to consume as wide a variety as possible of health-boosting foods. Why not set yourself a challenge to try all the foods, herbs and teas from this list over a 14-day period? As well as discovering some awesome new tastes, you really might be giving your body the best possible chance of fighting-off infections. Go on-give it a try!