Feeding your body certain foods may help keep your immune system strong. If you’re looking for ways to prevent winter colds and the flu, you should make sure to include these foods in your diet:
1. Ginger: If you’ve been feeling under the weather, you may turn to Ginger to help speed up the recovery process. Ginger is known to decrease inflammation and nausea. While it’s used in many sweet desserts, ginger packs some heat in the form of gingerol, a relative of capsaicin. Ginger can also help people who suffer from chronic pain and can lower your cholesterol1.
2. Spinach: Popeye may have been on to something eating all that spinach. It’s packed with vitamin C, beta-carotene and many other antioxidants. It can help boost your immune system and improve how your body is able to fight against infection. It’s best to eat spinach raw as overcooking it can deplete most of its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
3. Yogurt: When purchasing yogurt, look for those that have live and active cultures, such as Greek yogurt. The cultures in yogurt are what stimulate the immune system and help your body to fight disease. Try to avoid those that are pre-flavored or have lots of sugar. If you want to sweeten the yogurt, get plain Greek yogurt and add some fruit!
You might also want to consider selecting a brand of yogurt that is fortified with vitamin D as it can help balance your immune system.
4. Almonds: Vitamin E is not often considered when fighting a cold because vitamin C is usually at the top of the list. It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. 46 whole, shelled almonds will give you 100% of the vitamin E you need every day2.
5. Turmeric: Most people are familiar with this bitter spice because it’s frequently used in curry recipes. But it has also been used to treat rheumatoid and osteoarthritis because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Research has also shown that curcumin decreases muscle damage due to exercise3.
6. Green Tea: Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant found in both black and green tea. Green tea contains high levels of epigallocatechin gallate, or EGCG, which is a very powerful antioxidant. The fermentation process black tea goes through destroys a lot of the EGCG. Green tea, on the other hand, is steamed and not fermented, so the EGCG is preserved.
You will also find high levels of L-theanine in green tea, which helps to boost certain compounds in the T cells that can fight germs.
7. Citrus fruits: Most people turn to vitamin C when they have a cold because it helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells which are key to fighting infections.
Popular citrus fruits include:
Because your body doesn’t produce or store it, you need daily vitamin C for continued health. This is why doctors recommend taking a whole-food vitamin C supplement during the winter months.
1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23901210, Antihyperlipidemic effects of ginger extracts in alloxan-induced diabetes and propylthiouracil-induced hypothyroidism in (rats), 2013 Jul;5(3):157-61. doi: 10.4103/0974-8490.112419
2. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/foods-high-in-vitamin-e, 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin E
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4802396/, Reduced inflammatory and muscle damage biomarkers following oral supplementation with bioavailable curcumin, 2016 Jun; 5: 72–78.