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How some foods can help our immune system all year round

Food and our immune system- fact or fiction?

No miracle cures BUT can certain foods make any difference you your immune response to coughs and colds?


Berries have been found to have some cough and cold fighting abilities 

Why? They contain compounds ( known as flav-en-oids) with anti oxidants which are anti inflammatory. 

Any evidence? Yes- a study in New Zealand showed that adults could be up to 1/3 more protected from the common cold if they consumed flavonoid rich foods including black currants and elderberries.

Blackcurrant drinks can also be soothing and comforting ( hot ribena takes me right back to child hood)  and a study in Rhinology showed that they also relieved common cold symptoms that affect your throat and give ruby nose

Elderberries are particularly studied for flu like symptoms and results from a small number of adults taking elderberry syrup 4x daily found symptom relief 4 days early versus placebo syrup. 

Ginger- also full of anti inflammatory properties- this super spice can help with dry throats and blocked noses when symptoms start according to a study in the International Journal of Preventative medicine. Best used regularly as a prevention measure, it can also make a tasty and soothing ( if a little spicy) hot drink when symptoms start. 

Yoghurt- the live bacteria that are part of yoghurts and drinks like kefir can certainly be immune supporting. A study in 2012 in the British Journal of Nutrition found that in a group of students who had a cold, those who took probiotics reduced the number of days of their symptoms and severity of symptoms too. 

Watch what you pick though- natural or greek style yoghurts have less sugars sweeteners or flavourings added so you can concentrate on getting the good stuff.

Seeds and nuts- chock full of zinc, these little guys can be an immune supporting snack, especially if you don’t feel like eating much when you are feeling rubbish. 

Why? Zinc as a mineral is anti inflammatory and also contains anti oxidants which are good for your immune system- ideally to be chomped on all year round. 

Dr Clara Russell