The countdown to spring is on, but with it still being a way off and with the amount of sore throats, sniffles and man flu (aka fate worse than death) around, now is the time to enhance your immune system response and ward off the lingering winter bugs by adding a few things in to your diet:
Such a nutritional powerhouse, onions are one of the richest dietary sources of flavonoids, including quercetin and anthocyanins. Both compounds are known for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and help regulate our immune response to pathogens and other infections. Onions contain onionin A, a constituent that inhibits the action of enzymes and macrophages involved in the development of tumours (in a mouse model). A batch of homemade French onion soup will work wonders here.
The herb rosemary is a substantial source of dietary diterpenes, well known for their ability to modulate and enhance our immune system response. They are also known for their anti-inflammatory action. Though it's not quite barbecue season, it's worth noting that these properties mean a rosemary rub on a steak will help protect you from the reactive oxidative species formed when we cook meat at high temperatures. Try this rosemary beef with blue cheese dipping sauce recipe. Interestingly, the oil from rosemary has long been used to help improve memory and in a recent study it was found to be as effective as the hair-loss medicine minoxidil in increasing hair follicle count. Another way to keep warm this winter.
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Vitamin D is so important for our immune system and in winter we don't get the same intensity of UVB rays to help us synthesise it from the sunlight (unless we are out in direct sun for over an hour each day). While dietary vitamin D is minimal, sardines and full-fat dairy products such as butter and cheese will provide some. And as a recent study revealed (yet again) the role of dairy fat in protecting against cerebrovascular and cardiovascular disease, we shouldn't shy away from these higher fat options. This sardine and potato bake covers the bases.
Nutritionist Mikki Williden helps people manage their diets in an interesting way, at a low cost. Find out more at mikkiwilliden.com