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Cold & Flu Fighting Foods To Eat This Winter

Tis the season for coughs, colds, and sniffles so what can you do to prevent catching the cold your children bring home from school?

Nourishing your body with the right food and exercise helps you build up your immune system and can not only help you fight off an illness but prevent you from getting ill in the first place. As you would expect, if you look after your body, it will look after you.

Stay Active: Not only does exercise make you feel great on the outside (if you disagree, you clearly haven’t been to one of my classes!), it also makes you feel great on the inside by supporting your immune system. Exercise stimulates the production of white blood cells which are the cells that fight off illnesses. When I first started exercising more regularly, I did notice that I got fewer colds. However, I did find that it could go the opposite direction if I do too much so always try to maintain that balance.

Eat The Rainbow: Have you ever noticed that when you don’t eat well, your plate is often filled with only one or two dull colours? Fitting as many different colours on your plate as possible is a great trick to get all the vitamins you need without even realising you're doing it. One of my favourite ‘rainbow’ recipes is an open sushi bowl - try my recipe here. Brightly coloured vegetables such as sweet potatoes, butternut squash and beetroot are rich in beta-carotene which our bodies convert to vitamin A that helps the body defend itself against infection. Don’t forget brightly coloured fruits too like oranges, mango, apricots and melon.

Soak Up The Vitamin D (Or Eat It) : With it getting darker and darker lately (and just living in England in general), it’s difficult to get enough vitamin D from sunlight so it's important to get it from your food instead. There are only a few food sources, of which the best are oily fish such as salmon and mackerel, eggs and mushrooms. Try my Shakshuka (baked eggs) recipe here for a delicious brunch with a good dose of vitamin D as well.

Add Garlic & Onion To (Nearly) Everything: I truly believe that you can add garlic and onion to almost any dish! And in addition to their flavour and versatility, garlic and onion contain special oils that have an anti-microbial effect. This means they may help protect us against bacterial and viral infections. Garlic and onion also support good gut health as prebiotics by promoting the growth of healthy bacteria. I know some of my clients are not big garlic fans so if you don’t like garlic, look out for fermented black garlic instead. It has a rich balsamic flavour and is said to be twice as active as regular garlic.

Go With Your Gut: Did you know that more than 60% of our immune defences lie along the lining of our gut? So keeping it in tip top condition is our first line of defence against infection. Probiotic foods like live yogurt, kefir, kimchi and sauerkraut can help to feed the good bacteria in the gut, but remember to introduce these foods gradually to give your system time to adjust.

Load Up On Oats & Barley: Grains such as oats and barley are full of a special type of fibre called beta-glucan, which as well as keeping us full and satisfied, increases the number and function of protective immune cells. To incorporate more beta-glucans into your diet, try barley as an alternative to rice, and you can add oats on top of cereal, yoghurt or smoothies - I also love baked oats as a healthy dessert!

Power Up On Vitamin C: Vitamin C remains a favourite remedy for avoiding and fighting the common cold as it supports the healthy function of the immune system. The best sources of vitamin C include leafy, dark green vegetables such as chard and spinach, peppers, broccoli, peas, kiwi fruit and citrus fruits. Want some more recipes full of vitamin C? Check out my “Coaches kitchen” where I chat while I cook every Tuesday evening and I always try to cook dinners full of green vitamin-rich veggies. You can find all my "Coaches kitchen" lives in my facebook group here.

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