Never has there been more focus on the value of health and having an optimally functioning immune system.
However, it's important to realise the concept of "boosting" your immune system doesn't hold any scientific merit as there is no automatic cure or supplement you can take to strengthen it in its entirety.
Rather, your immunity is based on a whole bunch of different health, nutrition and activity factors. That means getting enough sleep, being regularly active and following a balanced diet to ensure you're getting a wide array of important vitamins, minerals and fibre.
Nutritionist and UNCLE TOBYS Ambassador, Kathleen Alleaume recommends stocking up on these pantry essentials this winter.
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Fuel your body with fibre
Given our immune system begins in our gut, it's important to keep your gut microbiome in balance. A fibre-rich diet, including lots of whole grains, nuts and legumes will help support your overall digestive health.
Make sure your pantry is filled with canned beans and lentils for hearty stews and plenty of fresh fibrous produce, and switch your snacks for a handful of walnuts or almonds.
Up your grain game
Don't be afraid to keep carbs on the menu, but make sure they are a wholegrain variety.
Unlike refined grains, which have been stripped of their bran and germ, wholegrain varieties retain many essential nutrients and bioactive substances, such as vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, healthy fats and a good deal of fibre.
For brekkie, this means wholegrain toast, cereal or rolled oats. I'm loving the new UNCLE TOBYS Super Blends Prebiotic Fibre Turmeric & Coconut with added prebiotic fibre to nourish the good bacteria in your gut. For lunch and dinner, stick to wholegrain pasta, brown rice and quinoa.
Focus on a diet predominantly based on plants. Many fibres in plant-based foods are also prebiotics, which ferment and fuel the growth of good bugs in your gut.
I stick to cooking with seasonal fruit and veggies as much as possible. So, for winter, that means things like apples, pears, oranges and grapefruits, and, if you're feeling adventurous, quince and rhubarb. Or, on the savoury side, opt for rich greens like spinach and silverbeet, root vegetables like beetroot and potato, and hearty items like pumpkin and cauliflower.
Make sure you're getting enough probiotics
Probiotics are live microorganisms that live in your gut promoted with claims that they provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.
As they're considered 'good' bacteria, consuming foods that are high in probiotics regularly, especially in winter, helps to top up your digestive tract and keep it running smoothly.
Probiotic-rich foods include yoghurt and kefir containing 'live active cultures', unsweetened kombucha, miso, and fermented vegetables such as kimchi.