Updated: Mar 31, 2020
Let’s face it, wintertime and often spring too are the times of the year when we are normally suffering from colds and flu and so I was going to write about immunity boosting fruit and veg anyway. I had no way of knowing, of course, that we would be in the middle of a health crisis that actually our bodies can not naturally fight as COVID-19 is a completely new virus.
However, good health is still a strong shield against other bugs that may be flying around at this time of year and good health will serve as a solid base from which to fight corona virus should it strike, and so I will proceed! This post does have a sweet ending though …
Eat a Rainbow
‘Eating a rainbow’ is a common phrase to encourage us to eat a wide variety of fruit and veg in a range of colours, the idea being that by eating a variety, you’re covering all bases when it comes to nutrition – fibre, vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Phytonutrients are responsible for the colour of the fruit or veg but are also critical to the survival of the plant – attracting pollinators or preventing predators, for example. They are also thought to help the plant repair and survive and some of those attributes may pass to us through consumption.
‘Eating a rainbow’ a is useful mantra to live by and having it at the front of my mind helps me make sensible, healthy food choices. But what colourful fruit and veg should we be eating to boost our immunity?
Green leafy vegetables are one of the biggest immunity boosters thanks to the levels of vitamin C and bioflavonoids, and luckily many are in season now. Think kale, broccoli, spinach, cabbage, spring greens and Pak Choi which are easy to build into a meal – spinach works in salads or steamed with butter and garlic, cabbage is great Sunday roast accompaniment, roasted or steamed whilst Pak Choi goes so well with Asian dishes.
The likes of oranges and lemons are great for immunity too and lead us nicely into orange and yellow foods. Citrus fruit is packed full of vitamin C which we all know prevents coughs and colds – make sure you keep the skin after squeezing the juice and grate the zest over your salads and veg in the winter – it gives you a further nutrition boost and your veg a bit of zing! Sweet potatoes also fall into this category if you are looking for something savoury. Don’t be afraid of eating the skin – it is full of fibre and helps retain the levels of vitamin C.
And then aside from fruit and veg there are the wonderful ginger, turmeric and garlic! Ginger and turmeric both have anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-everything powers! They really are superfoods of the highest power! They are great in curries, soups, smoothies and of course there are ginger teas, turmeric teas and turmeric lattes. Garlic is recommended for cold prevention or curtailing colds’ duration. Add it to everything if you can!
On a separate but related note, the other thing to take into consideration is seasonality. By sourcing fruit and vegetables from your greengrocer or Farmers’ Market when they are in season, you will be enjoying them at their freshest and at their most flavoursome (plus it’s much better for the environment as by buying them locally, they have a much lower carbon footprint). This guide is great for checking what’s in season.