The cold and flu season is upon us. How many times did your mother tell you, “Wear a jacket, or you’ll catch a cold”? Maybe you have said the same thing to your kids today. However, wearing a jacket should not be your primary concern.
The reason cold and flu occurrence peaks during the winter months is not because we are cold weather, but because we spend more time indoors and are in closer contact with other people who can pass on their germs and bacteria. Therefore, it is important to strengthen our internal army – or the immune system – to be prepared for the microbial invasion and to help us avoid getting sick
Here are 15 immune-boosting foods recommended by Best Health to get you through the winter months.
Rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, carrots help your body repair an impaired immune system, combat highly reactive free radicals, and prevent cell damage.
Kefir, touted as a probiotic superfood has been shown to reduce symptoms of a common cold and speed up recovery. Probiotics are vital to proper digestion, and without proper digestion, Natasha Audette, a registered holistic nutritionist, said our bodies are unable to break down the nutrients we take in to help strengthen our immune system.
Organic, free-range eggs are an excellent source of proteins and amino acids. Eggs are also high in selenium, an essential mineral required for optimal immune system and thyroid health.
4. Wheat germ
Wheat germ can be added to smoothies or oatmeal bowls. It is packed with disease fighting nutrients such as vitamin E, selenium, magnesium, and zinc.
Kiwi fruits – or other vitamin C-rich foods such as bell peppers, strawberries, and citrus fruits – protect your body against inflammation and might speed up the healing process.
6. Homemade chicken soup
Chicken soup to fight a cold or the flu isn’t just an old wives’ tale. Scientists found a compound, carnosine, in chicken soup that can mobilize the immune system to fight the early stages of the flu.
Almonds are an excellent source of vitamin E which is a potent antioxidant to protect our cells against damage. Furthermore, Best Health reported on a study published in 2010 that found a naturally occurring chemical in almond skins that can boost the immune system’s response to infection.
8. Pumpkin seeds
These nutritious seeds are packed with zinc. Low zinc levels can impair the immune system and interfere with T-cell function.
Kale has been shown to stimulate the immune system. Among many other nutrients, kale is rich in antioxidants, iron, folate, and vitamins A, C, and K.
Garlic has many infection-fighting abilities should one get sick with a cold of the flu. Researchers have also found that people who take garlic supplements are less likely to get a cold or the flu in the first place.
Ginger has colon cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties. According to Natasha Audette, ginger works best to treat a sore or swollen throat.
12. Shiitake Mushrooms
Researchers at the University of Florida found that eating about 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms a day improved immune function.
Vitamin D is essential to our health. However, during the winter months, people often don’t get enough of this sunshine vitamin. According to Best Health, a 3-ounce serving of salmon provides about half of your daily need of vitamin D.
14. Collard greens
Similar to kale, collard greens are an ideal source of folate. Folate deficiencies have shown to affect our immune system negatively.
Lastly, cloves are rich in eugenol, a plant chemical that has proven to be very effective in the fight against bacteria and viruses.