When You're Not At Your Best This Winter, Try These Immunity-Boosting Foods

Written by Kelly Williams, MS

When cold, damp weather drives many of us indoors during the winter, many of us notice an uptick in colds and other viruses. The extra time spent indoors may make it easier for germs to spread, but you can fight back! With plenty of rest, fresh air, sunshine and good nutrition, you can help prime your immune system for peak performance.

10 Top Foods That May Help Boost Your Immune System:

Red bell peppers: Loaded with
vitamin C, bell peppers are perfect for snacking with your favorite dip or cooked in a quick stir-fry or fajitas. They are also rich in lycopene and anthocyanin, which help fight infections and prevent heart disease.

Citrus fruits are another vitamin C powerhouse. Try starting your day with a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange in your water for an easy way to add a little more of this powerful antioxidant to your diet. As a bonus, this may improve your hydration, which is essential to helping your body fight off illness and flush toxins out of your system.

Spinach is an excellent source of flavonoids and antioxidants. Research suggests these flavonoids may even help prevent the common cold! Eaten raw as a salad, scrambled into eggs, steamed as a side dish or tossed into a chicken soup — the possibilities are endless for adding more of this nutrient- dense vegetable to your day.

Broccoli: Packed with vitamins A, C and E, broccoli and its cruciferous cousins, Brussels sprouts and cauliflower, are full of antioxidants and play an important role in the body’s detoxification pathways.

Cold-Water Fish: Oily fish, such as salmon, are full of omegas that help the body fight inflammation. These fish can also be a good source of vitamins B6 and D, which promote production of the antibodies needed to fight infection. Aim for at least two servings each week.

Sweet potatoes are full of vitamins A, C and B6, not to mention a good source of soluble and insoluble fiber. Try a baked sweet potato for breakfast with a drizzle of maple syrup or sprinkle of cinnamon and a scoop of yogurt for a tasty variation on a traditional baked potato.

Nuts and Seeds: There are so many varieties to choose from, so be sure to sample them all! Studies show that adequate vitamin E is especially important for promoting immunity in the aged. Just 1 oz of sunflower seeds or almonds meets almost half of the daily value.

Fermented Foods: Studies show there is a positive relationship between the bacteria in fermented foods and the immune system. Consider a nourishing cup of miso soup, a scoop of kimchi or a glass of kombucha or kefir to help feed the “good bugs” in your gut.

Garlic is a small but mighty immune booster. Its active component is allicin, thought to block enzymes involved in infections. If you can handle it raw, you will maximize the benefits, but lightly cooking it may make it more palatable.

Ginger has long been known to calm a queasy stomach, but did you know it is naturally anti-inflammatory and that the active component even helps treat asthma? Try sipping a cup of ginger tea or grate fresh ginger into curries, over carrot or squash dishes.

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