Winter is nearly upon us, and with it comes cold and flu season. To avoid getting sick and missing out on all the outdoor thrills winter has to offer, it’s essential that you know what foods to eat to keep a balanced and robust immune system.
During these cold-weather months, fill up your place with these essential foods to boost your immune system, keep it working at optimum level, and avoid infections.
1. Green tea
The benefits of green tea are widely known, but it’s the catechins in green tea that make it an important part of boosting your immune system. Catechins are antioxidants that have been proven to help in the prevention of viruses. Green tea can not only help prevent you from getting sick, but it can also significantly reduce the time you stay sick if you’ve already caught a bug.
There’s a reason why grandmothers always recommend soup – especially chicken noodle soup – when we get sick. Soup is great for your body when your immune system is working hard to beat a cold or flu.
Make sure your soup has a variety of ingredients such as carrots, which are rich in vitamin C, and chicken, which is high in iron and zinc. The broth in the soup also helps with secreting mucus, which protects your body from possible infections.
Studies have shown that when people took a garlic supplement every day for three months (instead of a placebo), they reported fewer colds. Garlic produces antioxidants, which help protect your body against invading germs.
If you’re already sick, honey can help tone down your cough and soothe your throat. Honey also helps treat acid reflux and indigestion. To increase your uptake of honey, use it as a sweetener in your tea or coffee instead of sugar, or try apple slices dipped in honey as a snack.
The first thing that pops into your mind when you think of cold prevention is vitamin C. The jury is still out on whether vitamin C really helps to prevent a cold, but studies have shown that it does help to minimize some of the common cold symptoms.
Stock up on oranges or fresh orange juice, and don’t worry about over-consumption. Vitamin C is water soluble, so anything not used by your body is flushed out with your urine.
6. Sweet potato
Sweet potatoes are rich in vitamin C, but the immune system boost comes from their large quantity of beta-carotene, which converts to vitamin A. This vitamin is vital for the mucous membranes lining our throat and nose while lowering the risk for various diseases.
“Good” bacteria or essential probiotics are found in yogurt, which helps decrease the harmful bacteria that give us indigestion and brings on diseases. One study concluded that consuming yogurt daily over three months reduces the frequency of colds by a factor of 2.6.