Our immune system benefits from eating a healthy balanced diet, being physically active, reducing stress and getting adequate sleep. There are also plenty of supplements around that claim to improve our immune system - this information can help you to separate the myths from the facts.
Zinc deficiency can lead to impaired immune function so it helps to make sure you're getting enough zinc during winter. It is possible to overdose on zinc supplements though, so check with your doctor or pharmacist if you're thinking of taking a tablet. Food sources of zinc include seafood, meat, seeds, and cooked dried beans, peas and lentils.
Vitamin C supplementation has not been shown to reduce the risk of getting sick, but it may reduce the severity and duration of the common cold. It is found naturally in many fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, berries and capsicum.
Ginseng, Echinacea and Garlic
There is not enough evidence to show that ginseng, echinacea or garlic help in the prevention or treatment of common colds.
Unfortunately there is currently no evidence that supports chicken soup for the prevention or cure of the common cold. However chicken soup can be a nourishing, healthy meal, especially if it has plenty of vegetables!
Probiotic treatment may reduce the duration of respiratory infections as they may help with the immune system. However the effects of probiotics are strain and dose specific, so check with your pharmacist about what is the best option.
*Some supplements can interfere with medications. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new supplements.*