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Now that winter is well and truly here, you might be looking to give your immune system a bit of a helping hand to avoid catching a cold and missing out on all the festivities – or maybe you’ve been unlucky enough to catch a seasonal bug already and are still feeling well and truly washed out. In either case, at times like these it’s easy to rely on multivitamins or vitamin sachets to give yourself a boost and get you back on track. But if your diet is already good overall, taking tablets or sachets often isn’t necessary: you might only need a boost of one or two key nutrients to keep yourself in good condition over the winter, so taking a multivitamin packed full of everything in your diet will only end up topping you up with things you’re already topped up with!

So instead, why not try one of these top 5 target foods that could help give your body a boost and fight off those cold and flu symptoms.



The bacteria in yoghurt can give the good bacteria living in your gut a much needed helping hand, and help to keep any bad bacteria and infections at bay. Probiotic yoghurts and yoghurt drinks are especially good, as they can help to increase your white blood cell count and improve your body’s immune response. There’s no need to shell out on expensive daily yoghurt pots though—try making your own with the handy step-by-step CK Elite guide to making kefir.


Everyone knows vitamin C is good for you, but when you’re not well or looking to give your immune system a boost vitamin C is especially useful because it’s involved in the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Oranges and tangerines, limes and lemons, grapefruits and soft fruits like raspberries and blueberries are all good sources of vitamin C. But be wary of over-the-counter fruit juices or smoothies though: check their labels, as pre-made juices can often be packed full of sugar, and contain much less dietary fibre than you’d get from just the fruits themselves.


Don’t just rely on fruit for your vitamin C boost. Gram for gram, red peppers contain more vitamin C than oranges, and 100g of chopped tomatoes contain more than three times the vitamin C you’ll find in the same amount of grapes! So why not combine both – along with some immune-boosting garlic and oregano (which contains anti-inflammatory compounds) – to can give yourself a hearty meal and a boost to your immune system. Want to avoid that pile of unnecessary carbs? Try switching the pasta for thinly-cut broccoli or courgette ribbons, blanched quickly in some boiling water.


As well as being a healthier and more flavoursome alternative to normal white potatoes, sweet potatoes contain beta carotene, a compound the body uses to make vitamin A. Vitamin A in turn is believed to boost both the body’s cell-to-cell communication (a cornerstone of your immune system) and its respiratory function, both of which can be particularly useful in cold and flu season. Carrots and pumpkins are just as good too.


Ginger has anti-inflammatory qualities and helps with nausea and upset stomachs. Its warming affect – caused by a compound called gingerol – can also increase sweat production, which if the old wives’ tale is to be believed can help you “sweat out” infections more quickly! You don’t want to go munching on a raw ginger root, of course: herbal teas containing a good kick of ginger will do just as well, and try adding some fresh lemon for a vitamin C hit too.


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