The cold weather has well and truly set in and for some of us, this can mean constantly trying to fight off illness. Thankfully for our stomach (and wallet) one of the best defences against unwanted bacteria and viruses is food. Here, we’ve rounded up some super immune boosters to help get you through winter flu-free.
Omega-3 essential fats
Omega-3 essential fats cannot be made by the body and must come from our diet or supplementation. It’s especially important to eat a daily serve of essential fats during winter (think hemp seeds, chia seeds, fatty fish (e.g. salmon), walnuts and flaxseeds) because omega-3 are known to positively modulate the immune response which helps the body fight back against germs.
Pumpkin seeds, seafood and whole grains (such as quinoa, brown rice and barley) are all sources of the mineral zinc and research has shown a zinc deficiency can increase susceptibility to infection.
Protein is made up of essential and non-essential amino acids. Amino acids are necessary to fuel the cells of the immune system and some must be obtained through the diet. In winter it can be tempting to reach for carbs for comfort but it’s important to balance good quality carbs with lean protein and healthy fats in foods like eggs, lean meat, nuts/seeds, dairy, legumes and tofu.
Shiitake mushrooms don’t only make a delicious addition to soups and broth but have also been traditionally used for their immune stimulating properties. In fact, eating shiitake mushrooms daily may help support immune function and reduce inflammation in the body.
Turmeric contains the active compound curcuma, which exerts antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial to immune health. Curcumin is poorly absorbed so it’s important to eat turmeric alongside a source of fat such as extra virgin olive oil and pinch of black pepper to increase the absorption.
Scrambled Mushroom and Tofu
Prep: 5 minutes
Cooking: 10-15 minutes
Vegan/Vegetarian - Dairy Free
½ Spanish onion, finely diced
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tomato, diced
1 cup mushrooms (shiitake, king, enoki, oyster, brown), roughly chopped
1 cup hard tofu organic, crumbled or cubed
Handful basil or flat leaf parsley
1 red chilli, finely diced
EV olive oil
Salt to taste
Saute the onion, garlic, chilli, mushroom and tomato in olive oil, until soft.
Then add the tofu cook until warm and add the herbs.
Drizzle a little olive oil and season.
Zoe Bingley-Pullin is a nutritionist, mother, chef and founder of Nutritional Edge, a nutritional consultancy company based in Sydney. Her dream is to help get people educated on nutrition and ignite a passion for healthy cooking that makes them want to get in the kitchen and cook nutritiously balanced, healthy meals the whole family can enjoy.