The clocks have gone back, the nights are drawing in and it feels like everyone is going down with horrible lurgy. It can only mean one thing – cold and flu season is officially upon us and, in the wake of warnings from the chief executive of NHS England that Britain could face a possible flu epidemic, we need to make sure we’re prepared.
Luckily one of the easiest ways to help with this is by scoffing food! Hurrah! It needs to be the right kind of food though obvs, to ensure we are getting enough vitamins and other key nutrients so that our immune system stays fighting fit.
What to eat to avoid colds and flu
Registered Dietitian Sian Porter suggests including the following five vitamins and minerals in your winter weekly shop:
1. Vitamin C
Source: orange juice
Sian says: “Vitamin C contributes to the healthy function of the immune system. A daily 150ml glass of pure orange juice count as one of your five-a-day and contains the vitamin C you need daily. Conveniently, pure orange juice is also a source of the B-vitamin folate, needed for white blood cells (that protect the body against infectious disease) to rapidly reproduce.”
Feeding Boys idea: Easy peasy! Drink it straight or whizz it up into a smoothie with a banana and a handful of oats for a quick and nourishing breakfast.
Sian says: “When it comes to filling your plate, it’s no myth that green is great! Winter greens such as spinach are rich in essential nutrients including iron and served alongside a winter warming bean stew this makes perfect eating for cough and cold season.”
Feeding Boys idea: Chuck a few handfuls into soups, stews or even smoothies for a quick boost of iron with no real effort. I buy it fresh and then keep a bag of it in the freezer so I’ve always got some to hand.
Sian says: “When winter creeps in, it’s tempting to snack on comfort foods like biscuits and chocolate but if you snack on a handful (about 28g) of nuts like almonds, they are a high good source of zinc which contributes to the healthy function of the immune system.”
Feeding Boys idea: I like to roughly chop a handful of almonds and use them as a crunchy sprinkle for soups and salads.
Sian says: “Like vitamin C, selenium is an important antioxidant that has a role in normal immune function. Mushrooms are a handy winter standby to give meals taste and texture, but they’re also a source of selenium.”
Feeding Boys idea: The boys are deeply suspicious of mushrooms but Matthew and I adore them as part of a cooked breakfast, grilled up with halloumi in a wholemeal pitta bread or to bulk out a warming Thai Green Curry.
Sian says: “As well the part of our immune system known as ‘innate immunity’, the body also has processes in place called ‘adaptive immunity’ which is when the body recognises a virus it has encountered before and initiates a response. Vitamin A (the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A) is needed for the development of cells which carry out this response. Adding veg rich in beta-carotene like carrots and red peppers will brighten up your winter dishes and boost your bet-carotene.”
Feeding Boys idea: Carrot sticks and home-made low-fat dips are a delicious snack to have on the go in the evening instead of diving into a family bag of crisps. I also like using my special julienne peeler (pictured above) and adding the thin strands to soups instead of noodles.
How do you stay healthy during cold and flu season?
Do you make sure your diet is full of these nutrients and vitamins? I’m pleasantly surprised by how simple it is to include these five food types so will be making an extra effort to get the boys eating as many of them as I can too!
Disclosure: Sponsored Post
I have been commissioned by Porter Novelli & the British Fruit Juice Association to share this post with you. All views are my own and I feel it’s a topic that is relevant to you lot as we are going into winter and want to keep our families healthy!