It’s cold and flu season, and if you want to boost your immune system before illnesses start knocking at your door, it’s essential to think about what you’re eating. You can add certain superfoods to your regular diet to give your immune system the boost it needs to perform optimally during flu season and beyond.
What Makes Certain Foods Immune-Boosting
Foods that are rich in nutrients that support immune system health are very good to consume more of during cold and flu season. In general, it’s wise to choose nutrient-packed foods rather than foods that tend to be heavily processed. Healthy proteins and fruits and vegetables are always a wise choice.
What Foods to Avoid
Just as you should eat immune-boosting foods during the fall and winter seasons, you should also avoid certain foods. Here’s a brief list of foods and drinks that can actually weaken your immune system.
Alcohol: Too much alcohol causes dehydration and makes you more susceptible to illness.
Heavily processed foods: Fast food and other heavily processed foods are largely devoid of nutrients and provide calories without the vitamins and minerals your body needs.
Caffeinated beverages: Sodas and other caffeinated beverages can cause you to become dehydrated and more susceptible to illnesses.
Hard to swallow foods are also wise to stay away from during the cold and flu season. They can aggravate sore throats and coughs.
Superfoods to Work Into Your Diet
Here are some of the top foods you should work into your diet during the cold and flu season.
Berries: Berries are packed full of antioxidants, which are substances that can improve health by slowing damage to cells caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that weaken the cells in the body and are associated with premature aging. Antioxidants inhibit harmful oxidation, which is the chemical reaction produced by free radicals. The more antioxidants you consume, the healthier your individual cells will be and the more readily your body will be able to fight off illnesses.
Tomatoes: Did you know a single medium-sized tomato provides you with more than 16 mg of vitamin C? Studies show that vitamin C helps strengthen t-cells and phagocytes in the human body. Both of these immune system components play key roles in immune function. A deficiency in either of these ingredients can weaken the immune system and cause you to be more susceptible to illnesses.
Broccoli: Dark green vegetables (such as broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables) are proven to switch on the enzymes and antioxidant genes in specific immune cells. This function is due to sulforaphane, which is a chemical found in broccoli. If you want to give your body the tools it needs to fight off colds and flus, add broccoli and other dark green veggies to your diet.
Ginseng tea: Ginseng has been shown in studies to significantly reduce the severity of influenza and cold symptoms. It’s also a great-tasting tea, which makes it a great choice for those who struggle to enjoy healthy foods.
Eggs: Egg yolks are jam-packed with nutrients, including vitamin D, that boost immunity. One study published in the journal JAMA reveals that participants who took vitamin D every day were less likely to catch colds and other respiratory infections in the winter.
Apples: You know the old saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”? Well, it turns out the statement is truer than most people realize. Apples contain phytochemical antioxidants, which reduce the risk of chronic diseases and help boost immunity.
This is a small sampling of the many different superfoods and drinks you can take to strengthen your immune system this cold and flu season. Reducing stress is also a great way to keep your immune system healthy. To further prepare yourself for the cold and flu season, keep an over-the-counter medication handy, such as Brillia Health, that works to reduce your symptoms and shorten the duration of your sickness.