Stay well this winter with winning meals

Stay well with winter mealsAfter a bumper cold and flu season last year, dietitians are urging Australians to boost their immune system this winter by tapping into nutritious comfort foods.

According to the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA), focusing on whole foods, including those containing vitamin C, zinc and protein, can help immunity – a useful weapon in fighting off the germs that cause colds and flu.

Figures from the Department of Health show more than 14,000 cases of the flu were reported in Australia last year, a 36 per cent increase from the year before.[i] And the flu accounts for 13,500 hospitalisations and 3,000 deaths among Australians aged over 50 years.[ii]

While healthy eating may not ward off germs entirely, DAA spokesperson Simone Austin said making nutritious meals a priority in the colder months can reduce the likelihood and severity of colds.

She added that a nutritious diet is particularly important in vulnerable populations, such as the elderly, whose immune systems may already be compromised.

“Foods high in vitamin C include capsicum, broccoli, kiwi fruit, strawberries and citrus fruit. Zinc is found in fish, seafood, beef and lamb, which also provide good-quality protein. Baked beans and pumpkin seeds also provide zinc. So there’s plenty of nutritious and tasty options.

Spicy goulash soup with paprika.“Now that winter has finally arrived, it’s time to enjoy tasty, warming foods that give you, and your immune system, a boost,” said Ms Austin, an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

According to Ms Austin, a nutritious winter diet need not be expensive or complicated.

She recommends nourishing winter meals, such as:

  • Beef and bean stew
  • Porridge topped with pumpkin seeds and chopped nuts
  • Warming seafood soup with added dark leafy greens and slices of capsicum
  • Grainy toast or a wholemeal muffin topped with baked beans
  • Delicious fruit crumbles, using fresh or frozen berries.

For tailored nutrition advice on keeping healthy this winter, DAA recommends seeking the support of an Accredited Practising Dietitian.

[i] Australian Government, Department of Health. National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System. Viewed 2 June 2016

[ii] Australian Government, Department of Health. Influenza. Viewed 2 June 2016.

Further information: 
Dietitians Association of Australia

Based on a press release issued from the DAA 8 June 2016



Green tea, red wine and cocoa to fight winter ills

green tea cupNew research has shown that consuming foods such as green tea, apples, blueberries, cocoa, red wine and onions, can significantly reduce the risk of catching a cold.

The research shows that adults who consume flavonoids (found in the foods above) or take flavonoid supplements, are 33 per cent more protected from the common cold (upper respiratory tract infections – URTI), compared with those who don’t.

Researcher Andrea Braakhuis from the University of Auckland said people who eat flavonoids also have fewer sick days.

“These findings show that if you’re generally healthy, eating flavonoids — found in lots of fruits and vegetables — can help stave off the bugs over winter,’ said Dr Braakhuis.

She said most adults have two to three colds a year, and children can have up to five, with symptoms including a sore throat, cough, runny nose and headache.

Colds are caused by viruses, not bacteria, so antibiotics do not help you recover. Rest and plenty of fluids is the standard treatment for the common cold. However, upping your intake of flavonoids may be worth pursuing.

Dr Braakhuis said nutrition scientists are learning more about the special components in foods, like flavonoids, which are thought to have anti-viral, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so can help reduce the incidence of coughs and colds and boost immune function.

red wineAt this stage, she said it’s too soon to recommend whether foods or supplements are a better source of flavonoids, and what the ideal dose is.

However, the advice is to eat five serves of veggies and two serves of fruit each day in a variety of colours. That way, you should get enough flavonoids. Adding green tea, the occasional red wine and a cheeky bit of dark chocolate will also help.

So this winter, tweak your diet and see if you can avoid the ills of winter.

The research will be presented at the Dietitians Association of Australia (DAA) National Conference in Perth (13-16 May, 2015)

Further information

Dietitians Association of Australia

Based on a press release from the Dietitians Association of Australia 14/5/15