Melbourne-based nutritionist and naturopath Stephanie Gobbo shares her favourite foods and supplements to support your immune system and reduce the risk of infections during the colder months.
Eating well is especially important in winter to boost our immune systems and reduce the risk of viral and bacterial infections. Try adding some of these foods and supplements to your regular diet.
Herbal medicine is used to reduce the severity and duration of a cold but is also used to prevent the immune system becoming compromised under prolonged stress. Each herbal medicine has different active components that work on fighting off colds and flus and relieving symptoms. My favourites are:
- Elder flower
- Siberian Ginseng
You can add some of these herbal ingredients (like turmeric, ginger and thyme) to your favourite recipes or take them in capsules or liquid mixes prescribed by your health practitioner.
Nutrients play a vital role in immune defence. Nutrients fight inflammation, increase the activity of immune cells and inhibits viral growth. Some of the best supplements for winter are:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- B Vitamins
Your nutritionist or GP can prescribe supplements to fit your nutrient needs.
Beneficial flora found in the gastrointestinal system plays a role in gut immunity by increasing the digestive system's defence to microbes ingested. At Luxton we prescribe live “strain specific” high dose probiotics for the individual and their specific symptoms.
Food as medicine
The diet also plays a role in immune boosting as therapeutic nutrients from food have anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties. Aim to add a couple of these to your daily diet.
Soups and curries, along with fresh vegetables, are the perfect way to include all these herbs and spices. Smoothies too are also the perfect way to boost nutrient levels.
- Manuka honey
- Ginger and garlic
- Thyme, oregano and chilli
- Berries and citrus fruits
- Bone broth
- Leafy greens
- Fermented foods
Water intake and herbal teas
Maintaining optimal hydration is critical for all bodily functions. Avoiding excess caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks will also enhance your immunity. Herbal teas can aid digestion, reduce allergies, calm the nervous system and promote sleep.