Cold and flu season is far from over. Between fighting off the wind chill and being cooped up in a stuffy office all day, your body is prime target for a bug. But before you succumb to another bout of the sniffles, raid your kitchen for some immune-boosting foods that will keep you healthy all season long.
Citrus. No surprise here, but citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and lemons are high in vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the body’s production of white blood cells and helps to prevent infection, especially if you’re feeling burnt out or stressed. Other sources of C: red and yellow peppers, tomatoes, papaya, mango, and kiwi.
Garlic. Not only does it help repel vampires, garlic contains allicin, a sulfuric compound that is a natural antibiotic, helps prevent infections, reduces fever and inflammation, and attacks viruses.
Broccoli. A true superfood, it’s loaded with vitamins A, which helps to regulate cell communication; infection-fighting C; and bacteria-destroying Other dark green, leafy veggies, like spinach, kale, and Brussels sprouts are also good.
Mushrooms. The Chinese and Japanese have long used mushrooms as medicine– and for good reason. Mushrooms help boost the production of white blood cells, remove toxins from the body, and restore our bodies’ natural balance.
Fish. Fatty fish, like wild salmon, have omega-3 fatty acids, which fortify cell membranes so that they hold strong against infection and heal the body faster. Plus, protein helps fortify the immune system to keep you strong. Not a fan of fins? Try adding flax oil to your morning smoothie for a fish-free omega-3 boost.
Carrots. Carrots and other orange veg (including pumpkins, squash, sweet potatoes, and peppers) that are high in beta-carotene, a protective antioxidant that guards against cell damage caused by viruses, pollution, smoking, and fried foods.
Yogurt. About 70 percent of our immune system resides in our gut – so a healthy digestive system makes for a healthy body. Probiotics are good bacteria that keep naturally occurring bad bacteria in check – kind of like a bouncer for the intestines. To keep a healthy population of good bacteria, choose a plain probiotic yogurt (sugar and sweetners can suppress the immune system) with solid research behind it, like Activia.
Sesame seeds. Sesame seeds are high in zinc, which is needed by our white blood cells to fight off infection. Other sources of zinc include oysters, wheat germ, and pumpkin seeds.
Cayenne pepper. If you’ve already got the sniffles, try some cayenne pepper, horseradish, or wasabi. These warming spices shrink blood vessels in the nose and throat, helping to relieve congestion.