Winter is a harsh season, particularly for one’s health, and it requires that you pay a bit more attention to the fighter in you that doesn’t relent — your immune system.
While immune-boosting supplements have their place, we suggest that before you head out to the pharmacy, pass by your local grocery store first.
“When you compare the absorption rate of vitamins and minerals from supplements to that of food, food is always your better bet,” Mbali Mapholi, dietician, tells Women’s Health.
“Food will always give you the highest absorption and should always be your first option for protecting yourself against illness and strengthening your immunity.”
But not everything you put into your mouth has these benefits in abundance *shocking*. That’s why we’ve put together a list of some of the most powerful immune-boosting ingredients that you need to throw into your grocery trolley now! Mapholi takes us through what these are:
1/ Citrus fruits
“Somehow nature is able to give us what we need at the time that we need it, hence citrus fruits are in season and in abundance,” Mapholi says. Citrus fruits contain vitamin C in high amounts and this particular vitamin helps white blood cells function better. These are the front-line soldiers for fighting off infections.
Citrus fruits include be grapefruits, oranges, lemon, clementine, tangerine and so on — these will give you that immune boost you need!
Most people have a love-hate relationship with broccoli, but either way — it’s a winter must-eat! “Broccoli is super-packed with vitamins A, C and E and most importantly, it’s high in fibre,” Mapholi says.
Fibre is good for gut health and gut health is crucial for immune system strength. “We have to make sure that the good bacteria in our gut is fed properly; this is why you need to have a good amount of fibre in your daily diet.”
The next time someone tells you you’re adding too much garlic to your food, just ignore them. Not everyone will understand the good decisions you make.
Garlic has massive anti-inflammatory properties and notable immune-boosting and healing properties.
4/ Red bell peppers
Similar to citrus fruits, red bell peppers are significantly high in vitamin C. Mapholi says: “Red bell peppers are also a source for beta carotene, which is an antioxidant. Winter is not kind to our immunity, skin and internal organs, which is why antioxidants are important –they help halt or slow the damage to our body’s cells.”
If you recently made a ginger and hot-water concoction to ease inflammation and flu symptoms, please let us know where you want us to drop your medical degree off, because you were on to something!
“In winter we’re more susceptible to cold and flu symptoms. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties and healing qualities that are a great aid to fighting off these symptoms,” Mapholi explains. Ginger is also more of a “let’s fight the symptoms when they’re already present” rather than a “let’s prevent the symptoms” kind of food.
Spinach is one of the most underrated superfoods. It’s jam-packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals. It’s significantly high in vitamin A, which is important for the maintenance of your immune system, and it’s also a great source of fibre.