Keeping your immunity strong is a great way to help fend off dreaded winter coughs and sniffles.
When you pick up a virus, your immune system kicks into gear to protect your body and it also helps remove nasty toxins on a daily basis.
There are plenty of remedies to ward off winter sniffles. So, do the old wives’ tales like hot honey and lemon drinks really work? And what should you be drinking to build and maintain strong immune system through winter?
Here are six dietitian approved options:
Drink your greens
eating (or drinking) more fruit and veggies is a great way to support and strengthen your immune system. Just like our heart, brain and muscles, your immune system benefits from healthy eating. The trouble is, when it comes to veggies, most New Zealanders fall well short of the recommended five serves a day. Adding veggies, like spinach, to a morning smoothie helps tick the box on a serve of veg and also provides vitamin C and iron - both essential for a healthy immune system.
Honey and Lemon
A warm honey and lemon drink may sound like a cuppa your Granny would offer at the slightest sound of a sniffle, and the fact is, she was on to a good thing. A honey and lemon drink is good to sip on, at any time of the year, to help maintain a strong immunity and prevent colds. Lemons are rich in vitamin C, which helps boost immunity. It also helps your bodies absorb iron from plant foods like green veggies and whole grains. You can’t store vitamin C in your body, so you need to make sure you are getting a good daily dose.
Add to those benefits, the value of honey - a traditional medicine for 8000 years. Honey has antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, which among many things, may help support your immune system.
Almond milk (with B12)
As well as helping to reduce fatigue, vitamin B12 helps the immune system. The main sources of vitamin B12 are animal products, so if you are vegan or vegetarian it can be difficult to get enough vitamin B12. That makes vitamin B12 fortified almond milks like So Good™, an excellent choice to add to your smoothie, cuppa or cooking. As well as tasting great, just one glass can provide half your daily vitamin B12 needs. Almond milks also contain vitamin E, a natural antioxidant to help protect cells and some like So Good Almond Milk, contain a good source of calcium, for healthy bones.
Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol and drinking more water is good for your health in general, as well as your immune system. Try infusing your water with berries or citrus fruits for a delicious drink with extra vitamin C, to help keep your immune system in top shape.
Adding a handful of nuts to a smoothie is a delicious way to incorporate a wide range of vitamins and minerals to your usual smoothie mix. Nuts contain a combination of at least 28 essential nutrients, including vitamin E, iron and zinc – another nutrient vital to support your body’s natural defences.
Another great immunity boosting smoothie addition is whole grains, such as oats and wholegrain breakfast cereals. As well as helping to keep winter hunger pangs at bay, the pre-biotic fibre in wholegrains helps feed good gut bacteria - a healthy immune system needs to be supported by healthy gut.
Whether as a tea or infused in water, ginger is an ideal go-to when the weather cools. Ginger is another food that has been used as a traditional medicine for centuries and modern science supports its anti-inflammatory and, anti-oxidative benefits.
Other ways to build-up and maintain a strong immune system are getting plenty of sleep, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising daily.