Get more than your daily value of vitamin C with just 1 cup of this vegie. “Vitamin C enables your body to make white blood cells, which fight off infection,” says dietitian Kristin Kirkpatrick. Also, a chemical in broccoli called sulforaphane activates antioxidant enzymes in immune cells, which researchers say may be especially helpful to keep our immune systems strong as we grow older.
Try this Stir-fry broccoli florets (as well as snow peas and beans) in a hot wok with a drizzle of sesame oil, soy sauce, crushed garlic and lemon zest. Top with chopped toasted cashews or hazelnuts.
They contain powerful compounds called beta-glucans that have long been known for their immune-boosting properties. Research shows that beta-glucans stimulate macrophages, cells that act like security guards and gobble up everyday germs. Macrophages also release signals that alert other cells to fight off infection.
Try this Stuff large flat mushrooms with a mixture of ricotta, torn basil, shredded kale (or baby spinach), lemon zest and grated parmesan. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden, and serve with a side salad or steamed greens.
You’re usually told to eat chicken soup when you’ve got a cold, but it can actually help you avoid getting sick in the first place. “Chicken is a good source of vitamin B6, which may help to block inflammatory proteins called cytokines,” Kristin says. “Too much inflammation can overwork your immune system, making you more prone to getting sick.” Also, the protein in chicken is needed to produce virus-fighting antibodies.
Try this Poach whole chicken breasts in an aromatic Asian-style broth made of reduced-salt chicken stock, soy sauce, star anise, chilli, garlic and ginger. Shred chicken and return to broth with noodles and shredded bok choy.
These sweet members of the onion family provide allicin, a sulfur compound that stimulates the immune system, Kristin says. Leeks are also a good source of vitamin A, which strengthens your body’s germ barriers. “Vitamin A keeps the skin and mucous membranes of your lungs, intestinal tract and kidneys healthy,” says Dr Salge Blake.
“If they’re weak, bacteria and viruses can more easily infiltrate the body.”
Try this Fill the holes of a 12-hole muffin pan with sliced leeks, leftover roast pumpkin, baby spinach and crumbled fetta. Fill with whisked eggs and then bake mini frittatas for 10-15 minutes until golden.
In just 100g of prawns, you’ll get a big dose of selenium, a micronutrient that guards and fortifies the immunity soldiers in your body. “Selenium acts as an antioxidant, protecting the immune cells from damage,” Dr Salge Blake says.
Try this Marinate prawns in a flavour-packed chermoula dressing made of finely chopped onion, coriander, parsley, garlic, cumin, paprika and turmeric, then drizzle with olive oil and pan-fry or barbecue until golden. Serve warm with lemon wedges and tzatziki.