Foods that boost your immunity

By Cara Cunningham,

Reporter:

By Cara Cunningham,

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Its beginning to happen – sneezing and that tell tale ‘sniffly’ sound is all around so now is the time to look after your immune system, to make sure it’s on top form to fight off all the bugs, colds and flu that are around.

Its beginning to happen – sneezing and that tell tale ‘sniffly’ sound is all around so now is the time to look after your immune system, to make sure it’s on top form to fight off all the bugs, colds and flu that are around.

So what foods can help?

Iron: this mineral is involved in chemical reactions that produce energy and protect the body against infections. The best sources of iron are red meats and meat products, other sources include breakfast cereals, dark green leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C: Absorption of iron in foods is boosted by the addition of vitamin C (that means drink fruit juices with your meals and stay away from strong teas as the tannins will destroy the vitamin C). Vitamin C, itself promotes a healthy immune function, but before you reach for the supplements remember studies have shown that the protective effect of vitamins and minerals of much greater benefit when those nutrients are from a food source. With that in mind go for fresh fruit and raw vegetables to provide you with your vitamin C

Zinc: is present is almost every cell in the human body and plays a crucial role in supporting a healthy immune system. Sources of zinc in the diet include red meat and liver

Probiotics: Our guts are full of bacteria both friendly and unfriendly, bifiodbacteria are the friendly bacteria in the gut. Some foods such as probiotic milk and yoghurts, cereals and juices may contain these friendly bacteria. Stores of friendly bacteria may deplete if a person has an infection or with some courses of antibiotics. In these cases probiotic foods/ drinks may help replenish the levels of friendly bacteria

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So boost your immune system by trying to eat a healthy diet that includes fruit, vegetable and lean red meat. Of course if you do fall ill with a cold or flu the advice is to drink plenty of fluids and get some rest – hopefully your immune system will do the rest!

For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:

The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044) 9353220 or email community.dietitians@hse.ie.