If you want to ward off the flu and keep running this winter, include these eight immune-boosting foods or ingredients, which are easy to find at just about every grocery store, and easy to incorporate into your daily diet.
1 Garlic: This potent relative of the onion contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. As an anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial antioxidant, garlic is a powerful opponent of just about everything.
2 Red Bell Peppers: It has been proven that dosing up on vitamin C can reduce flu symptoms, also strengthening the skin and increasing antibody production. Red bell peppers contain twice the amount of vitamin C found in most vegetables and fruits (including the famous orange).
3 Plain Yoghurt: Probiotics are the star of the show in yoghurt’s claim to immune-boosting fame. Natural, plain low-fat yoghurt contains ‘good bacteria’ essential for maintaining a healthy digestive system, while some even help fight harmful bacteria like salmonella and viral infections.
4 Ginger: This is a powerful antioxidant, and can help to stimulate your circulation, aiding detoxification and cleansing the colon. Strong antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties make ginger root another good bet for boosting immunity.
5 Chicken Soup: The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine, which may explain the results. Like any hot liquid, soup also helps you to stay hydrated and raises the temperature of the airways, both of which are important for loosening mucus. (Do try our chicken noodle soup with dill recipe – see sidebar below.)
6 Zinc: Because the body cannot create it or store it, zinc must be obtained through diet and must be consumed on a regular basis. Red meat and poultry are common sources, but many other foods also contain zinc, including oysters, beans, whole grains and fortified cereals.
7 Water: Hydration flushes out toxins and thins out mucus.
8 Beta Carotene: The skin serves as a first-line of defence against bacteria. To stay strong, your skin needs vitamin A, and one of the best ways to get it into your diet is from foods containing beta-carotene, which your body turns into vitamin A. Think orange when looking for foods rich in beta-carotene: carrots, squash, pumpkin and cantaloupe.
CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP WITH DILL
Makes: 6 servings, about 1? cups each
Preparation: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 30-40 minutes
? 10 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (or 2-3 chicken stock cubes dissolved in 2.5 litres of boiling water)
? 4 medium carrots, diced
? 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
? 6 cloves garlic, minced
? 3 cups whole-wheat egg noodles
? 4 cups shredded cooked skinless chicken breast
? 3 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
? 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice, or to taste
Bring broth to a boil in a big cooking pot. Add carrots, celery, ginger and garlic, then cook for about 20 minutes, uncovered, over medium heat, until vegetables are just tender. Add noodles and chicken, and simmer 10-15 minutes until the noodles are just tender. Stir in dill and lemon juice.