Dr Laila Suleman, a physician and an intensivist at Life Kingsbury Hospital, says healthy eating and getting enough sleep and exercise can help keep the common cold at bay, and that a weak immune system can be linked to high levels of stress and poor digestion.
Foods to help boost your immune system: oysters, red meat, chicken, beans, spinach and nuts are a good source of zinc, which helps create and activate the immune system’s white blood cells, involved in protecting the body against infectious diseases.
The mineral is important in collagen-production, essential in the enzymatic reactions that take place when wounds heal, and is a protective antioxidant.
Garlic contains compounds that have been shown to improve white blood cells’ ability to fight off viruses, and citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges and lemons are packed with vitamin C, which can help protect the lungs and eliminate toxins and disease-causing components of the cold.
Turmeric is believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, and has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal agents that strengthen the immune system.
Professor Christo Muller, chief specialist scientist at the SA Medical Research Council, says a rare antioxidant found in rooibos called nothofagin helps to improve the immune system, and “has the potential to reduce inflammation”.