5 Foods to Boost Your Immune System

With winter just around the corner, it’s that time of year when you need to start thinking carefully about boosting your immune system to ensure that you get through the next few months with minimal impact to your training regime.

Let’s be honest, the last thing you feel like doing when you’re streaming with a cold is hitting the road and putting in more miles, or working out in the gym, so it’s important to stay as healthy as possible if you want to keep your fitness levels up through the winter.  Ultimately, everyone gets sick at some point, but it’s also possible to minimise the chances of picking up a cold – here’s 5 foods to boost your immune system and help you fight off infections quicker this winter!

Garlic

Garlic contains allicin which helps your body fight off bacteria and infections.  Adding garlic to food improves the depth of flavour – particularly important if you don’t like bland dishes, and it also has enormous and proven health benefits.

Garlic - helps boost immune system

A British medical study gave more than 100 people a garlic extract or a placebo for 3 months.  The people taking garlic were about 2/3 less likely to catch a cold.  Garlic’s also been linked with reduced rates of colorectal and stomach cancers, so it’s good for your long term health too.

Try and work around 6 cloves of garlic into your weekly diet either as part of meals, or via a supplement.

Button Mushrooms

If you’re worried about getting the flu this winter, then add a few portions of mushrooms to your weekly diet.  Not only do mushrooms contain selenium which has been shown to help with reducing the effects of flu, they also contain vitamin B (riboflavin and niacin) which boost your immune system too.

Watermelon

Aside from being a refreshing and low calorie snack to help you rehydrate after working out, watermelon also contains glutathione which is a powerful anti-oxidant.

watermelon - a good source of anti-oxidants

The richest concentrations are found in the flesh closest to the rind of the melon, so make sure you don’t just cut that bit away and eat the middle bits.  You can get the same anti-oxidant from cabbage too, which is also a great source of fibre, so shred some into your chicken soup to help you recover from a cold if you get one.

Spinach

Lightly cooked or raw spinach is a well known superfood which contains a treasure trove of nutrients that will shore up your immune system.  It’s rich in Vitamin C, and also contains folates which help to repair cells and keep you healthy.

Broccoli

In general, eating more fresh vegetables is a pretty good idea and broccoli is one that will really help you boost your immune system.  It’s packed with vitamins (A, and C), and like cabbage and watermelon, it also contains the anti-oxidant glutathione.  Bear in mind that if you boil broccoli you’ll leach out most of the goodness, so try grilling it lightly or briefly stir frying it with some olive oil and finely chopped garlic to get additional benefits for your immune system.

Is there a food that you swear by to boost your immune system during the winter months?  Share it in the comments!