Brits risk winter illness as millions don’t know which foods can boost immunity
Millions of Brits could be more susceptible to winter cold and flu as they are not stocking their fridges and cupboards with the right food and drink due to not knowing the vitamins …
Millions of Brits could be more susceptible to winter cold and flu as they are not stocking their fridges and cupboards with the right food and drink due to not knowing the vitamins and minerals that can help improve their immunity, a new study has revealed.
A survey of UK adults by the Fruit Juice Science Centre and Savanta ComRes found that while most (84 %) correctly identified vitamin C as a key nutrient for optimal immunity, many weren’t able to identify the other vitamins and minerals which can help guard against winter illnesses.
When asked which nutrients can help natural immunity, fewer than four in 10 (38 %) correctly identified Iron, commonly found in foods such as red meat, lentils and spinach, while even fewer (32 %) chose vitamin E, which is contained in nuts and seeds, grapefruit juice and red peppers.
Selenium (9 %), found in eggs and poultry, and folate (8 %), found in many green vegetables and 100 % orange juice, were other immunity-boosting nutrients that few consumers know can help guard against flu. Copper (7 %), often found in shellfish and beans, was the least recognised of nutrients with government-backed immunity claims.
Despite three quarters (76 %) of Brits knowing that diet impacts natural immunity, this lack of understanding around vitamins and minerals means many are unsure which food groups they should be consuming. Only half (51 %) identified that 100 % fruit juice and smoothies can support immunity, with 46 % selecting fish and proteins such as beans and eggs. Just one in five (21 %) identified meat as a good source of the key immunity nutrients, iron and zinc.
The research also demonstrated the lasting impact that Covid-19 has had on our approach to winter illness. 55 % of Brits expect to catch a cold or flu this winter, which equates to more than 22 million people. Of these, 45 % will self-isolate if they develop a cold or flu, while 43 % will wear a mask.
Concerningly, more than a third of Brits (35 %) said they would still go into work despite being ill, raising the prospect of offices becoming hotbeds of sickness, while a quarter (26 %) said they wouldn’t wash their hands more frequently if they caught a winter illness.
Leading nutritionist, Dr Emma Derbyshire, commented: “Winter illnesses will hit many of us this year as we return to normal social situations yet it’s clear from this new survey that some are taking their eye off the ball on handwashing and staying at home to avoid infecting others. Whilst having a healthy diet can’t stop viruses, it can help us get over respiratory illnesses faster by supporting our natural immunity. An easy first step is drinking a daily glass of orange juice – just 28% of consumers understand it doesn’t contain any added sugar – which is a convenient and effective source of vitamin C and folate, both proven to support normal immune function”.
Emma Derbyshire’s five nutrition tips for winter immunity are:
- Drink a daily glass of 100 % orange juice to naturally boost your intake of vitamin C and folate.
- Aim for at least 5 daily servings of fruit and vegetables for their vitamin A content.
- Choose wholegrain breakfast cereals, bread and rice as the fibre will promote friendly species of gut bacteria – a first line of defence against winter illnesses.
- Have one serving of oily fish weekly which is rich in calming omega-3 fats and immune-supporting vitamin D.
- Take a handful of Brazil nuts as a snack as these are high in selenium.