Healthy winter diet: The best foods to eat to stay well this winter

Here's what you need to know to boost your immune system and keep your health tip-top over the winter months.

As the nights draw in, our thoughts will no doubt turn to warming pies, stews and roasts and other winter warming comfort food. There's nothing wrong with indulging a little over the winter months, but how do you make sure you get all the nutrition your body needs to fight off colds and flu? Our diet is crucial to boosting our immune systems and helping fight off the bugs.

“Take some time out to assess your lifestyle habits. Overworking and a lack of rest, exercise and sleep all tend to deplete our energy and our strength. This can leave us more vulnerable to outside influences. To achieve vitality over the winter months, make sure you give yourself time to relax, exercise and try to get both good quality and quantity of sleep.”

Here are our top tips for what to eat to stay well this winter…

1. Make a date with porridge

“Start your day with a healthy slow-release breakfast, which will keep you full of energy until lunch. Warming oats are a great way to start your morning, try topping with nuts or seeds and some seasonal winter fruit like apples, pears cranberries or dates.”

2. Choose fruit and veggies rich in vitamin C

“Add foods like sweet potatoes, tomatoes, red peppers and citrus fruits to your meals as they contain vitamin C, which plays an important role in the immune system and energy levels, especially important if you regularly exercise.”

3. Look for sources of zinc, like spinach

“During the winter months, we can come into contact with viruses that can cause colds or flu. So, it's important that our immune system functions normally and zinc contributes to this. Foods such as oysters, spinach and legumes are good sources of zinc.”

4. Eat more iron-rich foods – or take a supplement

“Red meats, lentils and green leafy vegetables are good sources of iron, which supports a healthy immune system. If you're not getting all your iron requirements from food sources alone consider taking a natural iron food supplement.”

5. Up your intake of fish, eggs and cheese

“Fish such as salmon and cod, as well as milk, eggs and cheese, are a great source of vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 contributes to the normal functioning of the immune system and also contributes to a reduction in tiredness and fatigue.”

6. Swap sugary foods for sweet root veggies and soups

“Sometimes the winter months can make us reach for sugar-laden ‘comfort foods' that can be bad for both our waistline and our energy levels. However, there are lots of winter foods that are nutritious and comforting – try roasted root vegetables which are delicious and sweet, or soups packed with vegetables are great for lunchtime, especially with lots of garlic or ginger.”