Eat Yourself Immune

Catch a winter cold and it will have a severe impact on your training, so boost your immune system with these foods


Cocoa contains flavonoids, compounds rich in antioxidants. Research suggest that the cells’ balance of oxidants to antioxidants is crucial to their functioning, and immune cells need higher levels of antioxidants than other cells. So enjoy a couple of squares of high-cocoa-content dark chocolate.


Rumour has it that gravediggers in France drank garlic crushed in wine to ward off the plague, while soldiers in World War I used it as an antiseptic. Whatever the truth, garlic is full of nutrients, including B and C vitamins – both of which are important antioxidants – and allicin, an antibacterial agent.

Sweet potatoes

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient and a deficiency is associated with susceptibility to infectious disease. So it’s great news that sweet potatoes are packed with the stuff – and carrots are not far behind.

Oily fish

Exposure to the sun produces vitamin D, which is important in readying T-cells to fight off infection. In winter, natural sun is scarce, so tuck into some oily fish, such as salmon or mackerel, to make up for the lack of sunlight.


Immunity is important but it can be too strong, with potentially fatal consequences, such as with sepsis where the body overreacts to infection. Zinc has been shown to have a role in limiting the immune response, perhaps explaining why it can reduce cold symptoms – so you don’t need an excuse to slip down a few zinc-rich oysters or other seafood.

Discover more great features on every aspect of cycling and get ahead of the pack with a subscription to Cycling Plus magazine. Prudential RideLondon participants can click here for an exclusive offer.