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Eating For Immunity

Rex Features
Cold season is just around the corner, but boosting your immune system for winter can be as simple by the choices you make at mealtimes. Nutritionist Nigel Denby gives us the rundown on how to boost your body's defences through the food you put on your plate.
Essential ingredients for a healthy immune system are found in the everyday foods that we eat. Here are the most important ones that will help you keep healthy this winter!
Vitamin C - people with low intakes of Vitamin C have been shown to suffer from colds more frequently, and for longer periods of time, than those who keep up their C levels. Instead of reaching for supplements, eat Vitamin C rich food everyday to keep your intake up: think citrus fruits and juices, blackcurrants, peppers, leafy green vegetables and potatoes.
Garlic - a plant compound called allicin that is found in garlic is believed to boost immunity as it has been shown to have potent germ-fighting capability. Soups, sauces and dressing can all benefit from a garlicky kick (or if you're very brave, you can eat it may want to keep a toothbrush close at hand).
Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish and the Omega-6 fatty acids from seeds like pumpkin and sunflower seeds are known as essential fatty acids that the body needs, but does not produce - which is why we need to source them from food. Eating salmon and mackerel a couple of times a week may be the easiest way to get your fatty acids.
People with low intakes of Vitamin A, which the body makes from beta carotene, have been shown to suffer from more frequent infections. Beta carotene is found in yellow and orange coloured fruits and vegetables, margarine, butter and that oily fish that you're already eating for Omega-3 benefits.
Folic acid is important for a healthy immune system, especially for pregnant women, and should be replenished daily due to the fact that the body cannot store it for long periods of time. It can be found in breakfast cereals fortified with whole grain, leafy green vegetables like Brussels sprouts and kale, as well as beetroot and pulses like black eyed beans.
Certain probiotics support the body's defences by helping to maintain a healthy gut, which is essential for a healthy immune system. Probiotic drinks like Actimel have been shown in clinical studies to help enhance immunity and reduce the duration of winter infections.
Zinc, found in wholegrain cereals, shellfish and lean red meats, is a mineral required for a healthy immune system as it increases the number of infection-fighting T-cells


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