If there’s one thing we hate, it’s a pesky cold or flu tripping up our health. One minute you’re killin’ it at the gym, full of energy and the best intentions, then suddenly the cold hits and you’re out of action. Not to mention feeling pretty gross. While there is no ‘magic pill’ against the common cold, there are some key nutrients for maximizing immune system resilience and bulking up your body’s defenses.
Here are four nutrients to boost your immune system and where to find them. The exact amount needed varies based on lifestyle and overall diet health, so if you’re really worried about your immune health, you should check with your doctor or dietitian.
You probably don’t pay attention to the amount of zinc you’re getting, but it’s critical for a healthy immune system that functions at its best. Zinc is naturally found in red meat, shellfish, poultry, dairy products, legumes, oats, nuts, tofu, whole grains and oysters (these guys are one of the best sources).
Gut health is linked to the health of your immune system. Look after your belly and your belly will work hard to look after you. Greek yogurt is a great source of probiotics, and you can also find them in a variety of fermented vegetables such as kimchi and sauerkraut. If you want a probiotic boost on the go, you can sip some kefir or kombucha. Just be sure to check the sugar content on these, too, as commercial brands may have added sweeteners.
Iron is vital for overall health and energy levels, and it’s especially important when you’re trying to shore up your defenses against infections. Red meat is usually the go-to for dietary iron, but if you’re concerned about red meat consumption, you can also find it in eggs, poultry, legumes, leafy green veg, nuts, seeds and iron-fortified cereals.
While you could take iron supplements and may need to if your doctor says you’re iron-deficient, our Barbecued Chicken with Grilled Broccoli & Lemon Salad is a good choice for supporting iron intake via whole foods if you’re a bit shy on red meat. For a veggie option, try Simon Hill’s Lentil Lasagne with Cauliflower Cashew Cheese.
We all know you can get vitamin C from citrus fruits, and you might even know how great strawberries and kiwi fruit are for this. But did you know vitamin C is also found in red bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower? If you want to start your day with a power-punch of immune-boosting nutrients, you can’t go past our Choc Mint Smoothie Bowl.
New research suggests a link between vitamin D and a healthy immune system but you don’t get this one from diet alone. It’s mostly sunlight. If you think you’re at risk of vitamin D deficiency, you should talk to your doctor and get your levels checked.
Get Chris Hemsworth's team of the world's best trainers, chefs and well-being experts in your corner.