Keeping your immune system healthy during virus outbreaks or flu season is vital, especially when your colleagues are constantly sniffling and sneezing at work.
Catching a cold or a virus in the workplace is sometimes inevitable, but there are ways to help your body fight them off. Eating immune-boosting foods is one of them.
From fruits rich in vitamin C to vegetables crammed with zinc, there are several foods with nutritional benefits that can help you keep your immune system strong and healthy.
To help you stay healthy, we’ve compiled a list of immune-boosting food that you can easily enjoy at the office.
1. Citrus Fruits
Fight off that cold and avoid calling in sick by adding citrus fruits into your diet. Instead of chocolate or crisps, bite into an orange or a grapefruit as a snack at work. These fruits are packed with vitamin C, which according to Healthline, have powerful antioxidants that strengthen your body’s natural defences.
Eat as much vitamin C as you can so if you do fall sick, you can return to work feeling much healthier. It's believed that consuming 65 to 90 mg a day is enough to support your immune system, so adding a couple juicy tangerines to your breakfast every morning is highly recommended.
While you may stink up the office, eating garlic can essentially build up your immune system. In fact, this controversial herb does more good than harm; Medical News Today claims garlic has a range of health benefits including preventing high cholesterol, cancer and heart disease. New research also found that it enhances immune cell function. Garlic can add a spicy (when eaten raw) or sweet (when eaten cooked) taste to your meals. Blend some into your soup, sprinkle it over your veg, or if you’re brave enough, bite into it raw – now that’s bound to distance that sick colleague away from you!
Spinach can supplement any meal, whether it is a super green salad, a healthy smoothie, or a vegetarian curry. This leafy vegetable is enriched with nutrients including flavonoids, carotenoids, vitamin C and vitamin E – all which help to prevent the common cold. It tastes even better when combined with other immune-boosting foods like garlic and olive oil. Spinach is easy to cook, simple to pack, and brilliant for decreasing your chance of catching the flu that’s going around the office.
Chicken and turkey are an excellent source of protein and vitamin B-6, which aids in keeping our immune system healthy. These healthy foods are best served grilled or oven-cooked and are satisfying meals for a long day at work.
Some quick recipe ideas include grilled chicken breast marinated in garlic sauce or roast turkey breast with rosemary and thyme accompanied with sweet potatoes and green beans. You can easily pre-cook these meals and reheat them the next day – ideal for a quick and easy work lunch solution!
Hated broccoli as a child? Now that you’re old enough to understand its benefits, it’s time to reconsider adding it into your diet. This superfood is jammed with vitamin A, C and E and has an abundance of fibre and minerals in it.
Broccoli is super easy to pack for work, and it’s a delicious side dish for a variety of meals such as rice and chicken or salmon and roast potatoes. Add it to your salad, mix it into your pasta, or simply crunch on a raw piece as a snack for more nutritional benefits.
Ditch that bag of crisps for a handful of nuts! Simple to pack, and easy to snack on while getting on with your job, nuts like almonds, Brazil nuts or cashews are ideal for preventing you from feeling under the weather. Almonds are filled with vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body beat infections, while cashews are a good source of minerals like iron and zinc. According to Nutrition Australia, a healthy daily intake of nuts is about 30g or a small handful.
Ginger is a well-recommended superfood that strengthens your immunity, battles nausea, and improves digestion. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidative benefits are superb when wanting to combat that virus in the office, and it even treats and soothes a sore throat!
You can sprinkle it over your meals or grate some ginger root in your tea or smoothie. If you want to get creative, consider cooking some ginger and honey chicken wings or yummy ginger fish cake patties the night before and pack them for work the next day!
8. Herbs and Spices
Adding some particular herbs and spices within your meals are the key to a healthy, immune-boosting diet. Turmeric, for instance, has strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that help your body fight unwanted bacteria.
The golden-yellow powder will give a wonderful colour to your meats, rice, or vegetables, while simultaneously enhancing your nutrition. Other beneficial herbs to add to your work meals include elderberry, black cumin, and cinnamon.
Bored of cereal? Tired of eating porridge? Consider having yoghurt for breakfast at work instead. This food is simple, convenient, and excellent for your health. Live culture yoghurts (like Greek yoghurt) in particular, are healthy and nutritious and packed with calcium and protein.
According to Healthline, properties like vitamin D increase our body’s natural defences against diseases. So, be sure to pair your work lunch with some yoghurt as a dip or replacement for mayonnaise or sour cream, or add it in your smoothie, and alongside cereals and granolas.
If you’re bored of cooking poultry and had enough of eating vegetables all day, try out some shellfish instead and boost your energy and immune system at work. Lobster, muscles, crab and clams are fantastic sources of zinc which is essential when treating the common cold.
According to Science Daily, zinc can control infections and ward off any impending illnesses. The best way to accumulate on this vitamin is by eating meals such as crabstick salad or prawn pasta – two easy and delicious foods to pack for work!
Stock your body up on calcium and zinc by eating foods like cheese. Hard cheese, in particular, is rife with zinc, which, as mentioned earlier, is essential for keeping infections at bay. The great thing about cheese (other than its yummy taste) is its ability to be paired with practically anything. Fill up a sandwich, grate it onto your pasta or eat it with a jacket potato or other vegetable. Cheese is also great to eat by itself, making an easy snack to munch on at work.
12. Sweet Potatoes
Not only are sweet potatoes healthy but they’re even tastier than regular potatoes. Turn them into a creamy mash or pop them in the oven and have them as a side dish with some chicken or fish. Alternatively, sweet jacket potatoes topped with avocado or garlic-herb sauce make up for a delicious vegan meal to take to the office.
Feast on this root vegetable for extra sources of beta carotene, a nutrient that supports the immune system and creates white blood cells, which of course, combat bacteria and viruses.
Dubbed as turbo-shots for your health, mushrooms are brilliant in fighting against stress, inflammation, and cancer. Easy to cook and simple to pack for work, you can add them into your salad, stir fry, or soup. They’re also yummy when accompanied with other grilled or steamed vegetables and as a side to chicken, fish, or potatoes. Want more ideas? Stuff mushrooms with garlic for an extra nutritional boost!
You can’t resist a bit of watermelon – especially in the summer months! Pack a couple of slices in a container or blend some in a smoothie and enjoy the sweet health benefits of watermelon at work. This magical fruit is a healthy way to increase your intake of vitamin A, vitamin C, and potassium. It also happens to quench your thirst, give you a source of energy, and is great for your skin and hair.
15. Dark Chocolate
Although this is more of a treat then a food, dark chocolate is a healthier substitute for milk chocolate. Having a sugar craving while making your way through that paperwork? Bite into a couple of squares of this scrumptious snack and reap in its nutritious properties.
According to Medical News Today, dark chocolate contains antioxidants that protect our cells from damage and reduce inflammation. A word of warning though – dark chocolate can be high in calories so be sure to eat it in moderation.
While eating healthily can protect you from getting sick, it isn’t the only thing you should do. Drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and reducing stress-levels are additional ways to strengthen your immunity to the seasonal flu and improve your health.
Can you recommend any other immune-boosting foods or recipes that are ideal for work? Let us know in the comment section below!