Nutrition during Cold and Flu Season

by Lisa Bell, Registered Holistic Nutritionist


Citrus fruits are full of phytonutrients, antioxidants and vitamin C. Vitamin C is vital for a healthy immune system, and is good for preventing and treating colds. One medium orange provides over 90% of our recommended daily intake of vitamin C. We have plenty of oranges in stock right now, which make great snacks: Navel oranges, blood oranges, cara cara oranges. My favourites right now are the satsuma mandarins – they are seedless, and so deliciously juicy! We also have plenty of grapefruit, lemons and limes in stock.


Fill your plate with colourful fruits and vegetables. Red bell peppers contain even more vitamin C than oranges! They’re also full of vitamins A and E, antioxidants which help with proper immune function, allowing us to fight off infections. We currently have red, yellow, orange and green bell peppers in stock. Mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D, selenium, and zinc – all of which are great for the immune system. Try chopping up a colourful mix of bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, eggplant, and red onion. Toss with a little extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, and garlic, and roast in the oven! We have so much local and organic produce in stock, even at this time of year! Try to introduce a variety of naturally colourful foods into your regular routine to help keep your immune system strong.


Keep your gut healthy with fermented and probiotic foods. Did you know that approximately 70% of the cells that make up your immune system can be found in the gastrointestinal tract? Keeping your gut balanced and healthy will help to keep your immune system strong. Give yourself plenty of good bacteria by consuming probiotic-rich foods such as natural yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut and kombucha, or by supplementing with a probiotic capsule. Also, getting plenty of both soluble and insoluble fibre will keep your digestive system in balance and functioning well.


Eat lots of greens, such as spinach, broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, swiss chard, beet greens, and collard greens. Greens are full of a wide range of vitamins and minerals including vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, as well as calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Greens also provide soluble and insoluble fibre.


Drink plenty of water and other fluids. I love making homemade ginger tea by grating a ½ inch section of fresh ginger into a mug of hot water. You could also add a bit of freshly grated turmeric. Ginger and turmeric are both warming spices which have anti-inflammatory properties.  Add a teaspoon of raw honey for its throat-soothing and antibacterial properties, and a squeeze of fresh lemon to boost your vitamin C intake. If you’re really brave, try adding a clove of crushed, raw garlic for its antibacterial and antiviral properties! 

You could also chop or muddle some fresh berries and herbs into your water to make it more interesting, and to ensure that you are drinking enough fluids. Or, try brewing a big pot of herbal tea in the morning, and sip it throughout the day. Our Ener-C packets also jazz up your water while giving you a boost of vitamins A, C, E and B.


Don’t forget about stress reduction and sleep! Exercises such as yoga or a brisk walk outside with a friend or family member are great ways to reduce stress.  Sleep is reparative, and is essential to us keeping our immune systems healthy. Without adequate sleep, we are less likely to be able to defend ourselves against colds and flu.


  • Lisa Bell

    Hi Beverley,

    Thanks so much for your comment! That is a great question. First of all, I think it’s wonderful that you’re looking to your diet to help cope with your osteoarthritis, as diet can make such a difference in lowering inflammation.

    In my opinion, the natural sugar found in fruits, especially low-glycemic fruits such as apples and berries, is absolutely fine! In fact, consuming a diet high in a variety of vegetables and fruits is alkalizing to the body, which can help to lower inflammation. I also feel that natural sweeteners such as honey and maple syrup are great alternatives to refined white sugar, when used in moderation.

    For some people, foods like dairy, gluten, and nightshade vegetables (white potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant) can increase inflammation and joint pain, so I would suggest avoiding these foods for a few weeks to see how you feel.

    Supplements like glucosamine and chondroitin can also be helpful in dealing with osteoarthritis. I would also recommend a high EPA omega-3 fish oil or a curcumin supplement to help lower inflammation. Feel free to stop by the store if you have any questions!

    Take care,


  • Beverley

    Hi Lisa,
    I met you in Foodsmiths recently and you were so very helpful and informative. I hope you will continue to submit these informative segments in the Foodsmiths emails. One question, I suffer with osteoarthritis in my lower back and am a follower of Functional Medicine; therefore, I am trying to omit sugar from my diet. Is the sugar in fruits like apple, pears, oranges, berries bad for me? I want to get rid of my inflammation not feed it. Is honey bad? I’m a bit confused on what to omit or if it should be all sugar. Thank you so much!

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