WANT to do everything you can to keep colds at bay? Immunologist Dr Jenna Macciochi shares some top tips on how to ward off winter bugs through your stomach.

“There’s a deeply entwined relationship between nutrition and the immune system,” says Dr Macciochi,”but it’s a complex one. Basically, in order to get the most out of the nutrition you consume, it’s important to look at the whole picture, including getting enough sleep and exercise, not smoking or drinking too much alcohol, and keeping stress in check.”

This is what an immune-supporting diet looks like..

1. Balance is key: This means eating a wide range of foods, including fibre, which is vital.

“Adequate fibre and phytonutrient (found in fruit and veg) intake nourishes the microbiome, keeping our barriers to infection robust,” says Macciochi.

2. Feed your gut: While nothing beats a good diet, the microbiome-feeding pre and probiotic supplements industry is booming. Our microbiome is unique to each of us, so a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t really work, but some high-quality supplements could have some benefits.

“Stick to preparations that contain well-researched bacteria strains - such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium - in a dose of at least 10 billion bacteria per serving, such as Healthspan Super20 Pro (£18.99 for 60)

3. Vitamins and minerals: Vitamin E, iron, zinc and selenium are all required for the production of antibodies that fight infections. Vitamin C and zinc have been associated with the reduced risk of infection and length of colds. Oils, nuts, nut butters and seeds will help with vitamin E. Wholegrains and wheats (oats, brown rice and bulgur wheat) are loaded with selenium. When it comes to vitamin C, chose red peppers, citrus fruit, berries, kale, broccoli and potatoes. When berries go out of season, use frozen ones. Shellfish, eggs, dairy, pulses, tofu, red meat and wholegrains all aid zinc intake.

4. Watch those iron levels: Low iron is one of the most common nutritional deficiencies, and with plant-based diets increasingly popular, it’s easy to fall short, as red meat is one of the best-known sources of the stuff. However, it is possible to get enough iron without eating red meat - beans, eggs, pulses, lentils and oats all also pack an iron punch.

5. Get spicy: Dried spices often get overlooked but they are a rich source of iron. Spices contain a range of antioxidants too, and there are good reasons why turmeric is setting the gold standard in ‘super food’ spices.

“As well as being anti-inflammatory, turmeric is a good inhibitor to vital entry into our cells,” says Macciochi. “Adding this spice regularly to meals could be useful to ward off infections.”

6. Top up with supplements: Nutritional supplements might often seem like little more than a marketing ploy but they have their place - it’s now recommended that UK adults take a daily 10mcg vitamin D supplement during the winter.

Why? Vitamin D is vital for keeping bones, teeth and muscles healthy, and just generally help keep us fighting fit - but most of our vitamin D is created by skin exposure to sunlight, and from October until early March, there simply isn’t enough of the ‘right’ sort of sunshine to meet our needs (even when the skies are blue).