Avoid the sniffles this winter by opting for the ultimate immunity medicine: food. Try these wonder-food sources for a boost to good belly bacteria:

 

 

1. Cacao: This small brown bean has double the antioxidants of red wine and three times the antioxidants found in green tea, shows research from Seoul National University.

2. Berries: Phenolic compounds found in blueberries and strawberries can boost good bacteria, helping to reduce inflammation. They increase immunity via a process called autophagy, which cleans up damaged cells, removes neurotoxins and breaks down toxic chemicals so they are more easily filtered from the body.

3. Carrots: These bright vegetables contain a natural a type of fibre called arabiongalactan, which helps the good bacteria in your gut to thrive.

4. Greek Yoghurt: This is high in active bacteria such as Lactobacillus bulgaricus and Streptococcus thermophilus, which survives well in your digestive tract. Make sure you choose varieties that contain active bacteria cultures but no flavours or sweeteners.

5. Garlic: This is rich in sulphides, which help act as a natural anti-bacterial agent against bad bacteria strains. Don’t throw out your sprouting garlic - research from the American Chemical Society has found that sprouted garlic boasts higher antioxidant levels than the fresher, younger bulbs.

6. Broccoli sprouts: These are packed with flavonoids that boost good gut bacteria. They contain a phytonutrient called sulforaphane, which is 50 times more concentrated in broccoli seeds and sprouts than it is in mature broccoli florets. This helps your liver detoxify toxic substances in the body.

7. Cabbage: This cruciferous vegetable is high in soluble dietary fibres such as hemicellulose and pectin, which stabilise blood sugars and boost good bacteria in your belly where many important hormones are made.

8. Coconut oil: This is packed with caprylic acid and cacaprylic acid, which have anti-bacterial and anti-fungal actions in your belly.

9. Sourdough bread: As this uses fermenting agents for the bread to rise, it is a great way to boost levels of the healthy Lactobacillus bacteria family.

10. Kimchi: This traditional Korean dish of fermented vegetables such as cabbage and radish contains Lactobacillus strains and other types of bacteria. 

11. Sauerkraut: Boasts high levels of Lactobacilli planatarum, a bacterium that can help reduce yeast infections and improve digestion.

12. Asparagus and Artichokes (Jerusalem): Are both rich in inulin, a prebiotic that helps you better absorb vitamins and other nutrients.

13. Miso: This paste made from fermented soybean is high in lactic acid and Lactobacillus bacteria strains.

14. Pineapple: This contains bromelain, an important digestive enzyme that helps you better digest and absorb food. Research from the University of Maryland suggests that bromelain may help combat unhealthy bacteria, reducing gastrointestinal complaints and diarrhoea.

15. Turmeric: This potent spice is packed with curcumin, which reduces gut inflammation. In animal studies conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Centre, curcumin helped improve gut barrier function after a poor diet caused inflammation.

16. Reishi Mushrooms: They are high in antioxidants and triterpenes, which activate white blood cells to boost immunity.

17. Apples: Japanese research has shown that eating apples daily helps increase beneficial forms of belly bacteria, including Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. Apple cider vinegar contains acetic acid, which can help to support good belly bacteria population