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10 foods to boost your immune system

November 3, 2014
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The much-dreaded cold and flu season is upon us. But fear not – by bolstering your defenses you can ensure that your body and immunity run smoothly and keep on top form throughout the winter.

HELLO! Online has joined forces with nutritionist and author Fiona Kirk, who kicks off the season with a nutritional rescue plan for when viruses take you down. Check out our shopping list of essential ingredients to seriously boost your defences and add extra flu-fighting punch to your winter meal plan to keep the bugs at bay...

green tea

Tea contains the amino acid that's responsible for an immune boost. L-theanine is abundant in both black and green tea.

Yogurt contains probiotics, or the "live active cultures", which are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.

Peppers (red, yellow, orange, green) are super-rich in vitamin C, which is an extremely powerful antioxidant that not only protects us against heart disease, circulatory problems and some cancers but has also been shown to stimulate the production and function of white blood cells that attack viruses. Eat them raw in salads or roast them with other vegetables.

Wheatgerm is a great source of vitamin E. Studies show that good levels of vitamin E lower the risk of contracting upper respiratory tract infections, especially the common cold. Sprinkle wheat germ flakes onto salads or breakfast, add to savoury dishes or blend with fruit and vegetable juices for a tasty smoothie.

Watercress provides high levels of plant chemicals known as glucosinolates which give it its unique peppery flavour and in scientific studies have been shown to increase the body’s potential to resist attack from disease-causing agents. Include it in soups, smoothies and salads.


Red chillies are rich in the compound, capsaicin which gives them their ‘heat’ and has been shown to significantly enhance immune status. Great in curries, Thai dishes, stews and stir fries either fresh, dried or as Tabasco sauce.

Celery is not only extremely hydrating but is also a great source of fibre which helps the efficient and healthy digestion of essential nutrients and elimination of immune-impairing toxins. Eat it raw or fill a few sticks with nut butter for a filling snack and benefit from the addition of the protective fats and protein from the butter.

Shellfish, such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, are a rich source of iron (good levels of which can help to limit or prevent infections) and omega 3's - body cells rich in omega 3 fatty acids can help to protect our DNA from damage.

Berries provide a wealth of protective plant chemicals known as flavonoids. Top your breakfast cereal or porridge with a selection of berries. The darker the colour, the richer they are in flavonoids.

Watermelon is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc and selenium which are all well-documented as top-grade immune boosters. Include it in smoothies (seeds included) or have a mix of melon slices as a snack. Survival Of The Fittest - Fiona Kirk’s Rescue Plan for the Cold and Flu Season. For more information visit

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