When it comes to your immune system, getting proper nutrition cannot be underestimated. The antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals you receive through your food are what keeps your body strong enough to fight off infection. It is important to make the following foods a part of your diet to ensure a good defense against colds and flu.
Beef will boost your immune system, because:
- It is a good source of zinc, and zinc aids in the development of white blood cells.
- These white blood cells improve both immune function and response.
- It’s protein supports the building of antibodies to fight off infection.
These types of fish include salmon, mackerel, and tuna. Rich in omega-3 fatty acids, these fish:
- Help reduce harmful inflammation in the body.
- Control chronic inflammation that can keep your immune system from working properly.
- Can prevent cold, flu, and more serious diseases.
They also contain Vitamin D, and as daylight hours decrease during the colder months of the year, your Vitamin D stores are depleted. Vitamin D:
- Is critical to fighting off colds and flu.
- Reduces the frequency and duration of colds and flu.
Dark, leafy greens such as kale, spinach, arugula, and Swiss chard, all contain significant amounts of Vitamin C which:
- If consistently taken, they will shorten the duration of a cold or possibly prevent it altogether.
- If cooked, they will shrink in size so you can consume more of them.
- Increases white blood cell production.
Carrots and Sweet Potatoes
These vegetables are rich in beta-carotene. Our bodies convert beta-carotene to Vitamin A that:
- Keeps the mucus membranes that line your nose, throat, and gastrointestinal tract, along with your skin, healthy.
- By keeping these membranes healthy, it builds your first line of defense against colds and flu.
You really should eat chicken soup when you’re sick, and when you’re not. It combines many elements that boost your immune system. Hot chicken soup:
- Raises the temperature in your airways, which loosens mucus secretions.
- Releases cysteine, an amino acid that resembles a drug used to treat bronchitis.
- Contains a high concentration of vegetables and protein that provide many different vitamins.
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, garlic contains allicin, which has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties. Garlic has been shown to:
- Cause you to experience fewer and less severe colds.
- Promote balanced gut flora, which rids the body of viruses, bacteria, and toxins.
- Contain the most antioxidants when eaten raw.
Yogurt contains microorganisms, or “good bacteria”, that keeps you healthy. It:
- Is a probiotic food that replenishes this good bacteria.
- Promotes digestive health.
- Helps prevent stomach ailments.
- Lowers the risk of upper respiratory infections.
While a hot cup of tea can soothe a sore throat and break up chest congestion, it also provides other benefits. All tea, green, black, or white contains catechins, which:
- Are a group of antioxidants that contain flu-fighting properties.
- Protect you from cancer and heart disease.
- Increase your metabolism.
- Boost your overall immunity.
The nutritional benefits of cocoa are often overlooked, because many chocolate treats contain sugar and saturated fat. However, chocolate:
- Contains polyphenols that are disease-fighting antioxidants.
- Also contains a high concentration of zinc.
- Can be consumed daily if you stick to 1/4 ounce servings.
The following foods are also recommended:
- Anise Seeds
- Skinned Turkey Breast
- Brazil Nuts
- Sunflower Seeds
With this abundant selection of immunity-boosting foods, we can enjoy better health during cold and flu season and all year around.