What can we do to best protect ourselves from coughs and colds? Turn to mother nature of course! Bump up your immunity with these bug-fighting fruit and veg.
First up: CARROTS
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, an antioxidant that is converted into vitamin A (vital for boosting immune function), as well as Biotin (one of the B vits, essential for metabolism or energy production), vit K1 (for clotting and bone health), potassium (for blood pressure control) and other antioxidants.
Other orange fruit and veggies are also good sources of beta-carotene, including sweet potatoes, orange, butternut squash, and mango – so can you see why 24 Carrot Gold is top of our list? (Clue: it features mandarin, sweet potato, turmeric and of course, carrot). Blend with orange juice (200ml) for extra vit C.
A classic: GINGER
Ginger is actually the root of a flowering plant in the Zingiberaceae family (try saying that with a cold!), closely related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. It has a very long history of use in various forms of traditional and alternative medicine – from helping digestion, reducing nausea (and morning sickness, my long-time ‘friend’), and of course helping us in the fight against colds & flu.
Gingerol, the main bioactive compound is responsible for much of ginger’s medicinal properties. It’s anti-inflammatory and has antioxidant effects – excellent for reversing oxidative stress and chronic inflammation which are key drivers of Alzheimer’s disease and age-related cognitive decline.
But most relevant for this time of year, ginger extract has been found to inhibit the growth of many different types of bacteria, such as that linked the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common cause of respiratory infections, as well as gingivitis and periodontitis. Ginger tea for fresh breath – take that, dubious mouthwash!
Try it in our Detox Zing: A rejuvenating hit of ginger, banana, blueberry, carrot, and courgette. Bold and beautiful.
The go-to: BLUEBERRIES
Blueberries have one of the highest antioxidant levels of all common fruits and vegetables. These antioxidants belong to a family of polyphenols antioxidants called flavonoids, and within this family, one group in particular — anthocyanins — is thought to be responsible for much of the health benefits. Studies show that they may lower cholesterol, reduce DNA damage and therefore help protect against ageing and cancer, protect against UTIs, and lower blood pressure. Not bad for a little berry the size of a pea!
Whilst antioxidants aren’t directly implicated in the fight against the common influenza virus, we still think that having your daily helping of one of the world’s most antioxidant fruit – try it in Blueberry Thrill – can only be a good thing in maintaining overall immune health.
Weird but worthwhile: GREEN TEA
Back to bad breath again (eurgh, sorry for that). Green tea contains an antioxidant called catechin (if you really want to know, it’s called epigallocatechin-3-gallate or EGCG). Studies have shown that it can suppress the growth of bacteria and therefore lowering the risk of infections of streptococcus mutans. This is the bacteria that causes plaque formation and is a leading contributor of tooth decay.
What’s interesting is that researchers are starting to discover that what works for mouth bacteria might also work for the bacteria that causes sore throats. The studies do use high quantities of the active compound, but initial research is looking promising.
For an alternative to green tea, try Matcha the Day – delicious peach, pineapple, spinach, banana and (wait for it), matcha made in heaven.
Fuzzy fifth: KIWI
This fuzzy green fruit is jam-packed full of vitamins C and E, which help fight against those pathogens that try to do us harm. In fact, gram for gram it has almost twice as much vitamin C than an orange, which makes it great for boosting your immune system. An average sized kiwi (about 70g) contains 85% of a woman’s daily vitamin C requirement, and 71% for men. Eat a couple (we like to chop off the top, like a boiled egg) and you’re there! Also don’t worry about overdosing on vitamin C – the body can’t store it, so it’s vital to replenish your supplies every day and anything that your body doesn’t use is just washed right out of your system.
Final bonus – one kiwi also contains as much potassium as a banana, but with half the calories – good for replenishing fluids lost to a sweaty fever.
Try it in our Big 5, blended with orange juice for an extra hit of vit C – we’re talking kiwi, pineapple, mango, and strawberry – 5 a day keeps the doctor away!