Winter is a time when we are surrounded by sneezes, coughs and colds – particularly in families and at school where sharing is the norm! Kids, in particular, are prone to sneezing and coughing without covering their faces.
The body is an amazing machine that has the ability to fight off all those nasties, and we can all help it along by providing fuel that boosts the immune system. Enter fresh fruit and vegetables! Five or more portions of fruits and vegetables daily can significantly increase antibody response, to improve the immune system.
A rich source of Vitamin C, antioxidants and polyphenols, berries boost the immune system and are popular as they are easy to pack, easy to serve and easy to eat. Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid that can help to boost the immune system. Flavonoids have been proven to play an important role as a defence mechanism, with those who eat blueberries less likely to get upper respiratory tract infections or colds than those who don’t eat them. Berries are easily eaten fresh, or add to smoothies, crumbles and yoghurt for variety.
The natural way to boost the body’s supply of Vitamin C! Oranges, mandarins, grapefruit, lemons, limes and Kiwi fruit are delicious and kids love them. While scientists are not sure how vitamin C improves the function of the human immune system, there are many who will attest to Vitamin C fighting off colds or reducing the duration of a cold. Serving up citrus and Kiwi fruit are a delicious way to provide a continuous boost to your immune system. Another tip is to infuse water with lemon and lime - a taste and health benefit that can easily be done in school water bottles or at home.
Colour counts! Carrot, sweet potato, spinach and kale are particularly good for the immune system. They are a rich source of beta-carotene which is converted to vitamin A in your body. Beta carotene supports a healthy immune system function, while vitamin A promotes the health of the digestive tract lining- protecting the body against colds, the flu and acting as a barrier to infections. Include these vegetables into soups, stir-fries, smoothies. Red, green, or yellow capsicums are a great way to get a dose of vitamin C without any sugar. Cut into strips and add a colourful touch to home or school’s fruit-time snack.
Check out some great winter recipes here.