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Boost Your Immune System This Winter....

To kick start your health, feed your body with goodness this winter. Research proves that what you eat greatly affects your health & mental well-being. By increasing your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables it will help to lift those January blues and keep your body strong.

Smoothies are an excellent source of vitamins and will give your body a kick start! Try and include as many of the below into your diet to help keep you healthy. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for your immune system are:

Citrus Fruits - Vitamin C increases the production of white blood cells which fight off infections. Because your body can't store vitamin C, you need this on a daily basis. Try eating or squeezing some orange, grapefruit,. lemons or limes into your daily diet.

Blueberries - these super berries can help fight off a cold and help you recover from an illness. They contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost a person's immune system. A recent study found that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract's immune defense system. Researchers found that people who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not. Pop some blueberries in your smoothie to really fight off those infections and keep your immune system in tip-top condition.

Red Bell Peppers - These contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits and are packed full of Beta Carotene which helps keep your eyes and skin healthy. Fantastic in a stir-fry!

Broccoli - This super veg is packed full of the vitamins A, C & E and is full of powerful antioxidants and fibre too! This is so good to have in your diet. It's best not to overcook and even eat it raw or pop in smoothies to preserve it's super power.

Spinach - Again rich in vitamin C, full of Beta Carotene and rich antioxidants, this is great for your immune system and helps to ward off those nasties! Best not to overcook to preserve those vital nutrients. Pop in a smoothie for immune boosting effects!

Papaya - This is a real super fruit! Contains Vitamin C, Potassium, B Vitamins & Folate which are extremely beneficial to overall health. Papaya's are also anti-inflammatory as they contain a special digestive enzyme called papain.

Kiwi - This small fruit contains vitamin K, C, Folate and Potassium. A real little gem of a fruit, simply pop in that blender!

Sunflower Seeds - These seeds have lots of important nutrients including phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin B-6. They’re also incredibly high in vitamin E which is a powerful antioxidant and is important in regulating and maintaining immune system function. Other foods containing vitamin E include Avocado and dark leafy greens. Avocado on toast is a fantastic option for breakfast and a favourite amongst us vegans :)

Tumeric - This really is a super spice! Proven to have super anti-inflammatory effects on the body it has been used to treat osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Those suffering form chronic conditions will reap the rewards from this powerful ingredient. It has also, been shown to heal muscles from excessive damage. Include in your diet on a weekly or even daily basis. Simply throw into a curry or smoothie!

Ginger - This is a real favourite of mine! Known for it's powerful anti-inflammatory properties. It can really calm down anti-inflammatory disorders such as Crohn's disease and can decrease chronic pain. In recent studies it has also been shown to lower cholesterol. This is great when added to Carrot Juice for a real kick! Including ginger regularly in your diet can have significant health benefits.

Garlic - This is fantastic for fighting infections and possibly lower blood pressure and prevent hardening of the arteries. Used in dishes all over the world, simply throw some garlic into your dishes to help you keep healthy.

Green Tea & White Tea - These are amongst the teas that are highest in flavonoids, powerful antioxidants. Most importantly they contain L-Theanine which is an amino acid that helps fight off germ cells but also, is very good in reducing anxiety. Those suffering from high levels of anxiety may benefit by drinking regular cups of green or white tea. L-theanine boosts levels of GABA, Serotonin & Dopamine, important neurotransmitters which regulate emotions, mood, sleep, concentration, energy, appetite & cognitive skills. Increasing levels of these calming brain chemicals also, promotes relaxation and aids sleep. Needless to say, L-theanine is an extremely important amino acid for the brain. Squeeze some fresh lemon juice in your green tea for added Vitamin C!

Boost your immune system this winter and keep your mind and body healthy :)

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