This has been a rough winter for wellness and immunity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been reporting some troubling statistics about this year’s flu season. And the information doesn’t always provide a clear strategy for what you can do to protect yourself. Even if you’ve survived this flu season so far without getting sick, we are not out of the weeds yet. And taking steps to provide your body with optimal nutrition can only help. Here are some commonly known winter foods that boost your immune system. And they’re in season right now! So head on out to the Farmers Market and take this list along with you.
5 Winter Foods that Boost Your Immune System
1) Dark Leafy Greens
Eating a variety of dark leafy greens is not only a good idea for their nutrient density-per-calorie in general, but getting a good dose of greens and spinach in particular will provide your body with a big dose of antioxidants from vitamin C, and folate. Folate helps your body make new cells and repair DNA. In particular, our immune system cells, which are white blood cells, are always in a rapid period of growth. These cells don’t live very long, so they constantly need to be replaced. Enjoy your spinach raw or lightly steamed.
Although many people associate kiwi with tropical foods and summer picnics, it is actually harvested in winter. Kiwifruit provides 273% of the daily recommended amount of vitamin C in every one-cup serving – five times that of an orange, and is a natural immune booster that staves off colds and flu. Kiwifruit is also one of the few foods rich in vitamin B6, which also supports the immune system. Kiwi is kind of a pain to peel but once you get that hairy peel away, you can enjoy it in smoothies, in salads, skewered, mixed with chia pudding, or chopped up and mixed into your morning oatmeal.
3) Sweet Potatoes
Like carrots, sweet potatoes have beta-carotene. In your body that turns into vitamin A, which mops up damaging free radicals. This helps bolster the immune system and may even improve the aging process. They are also hight in vitamin C. Sweet potatoes are practically a stand-alone meal with their slow digesting carbohydrates-great for sustained energy, and fiber to help you feel full. But they also help strengthen immune system function. Sweet potatoes can be cut up and roasted and tossed into salads, thinly sliced and baked or toasted, cut in a spiralizer machine as a pasta alternative, or mashed and topped with sautéed button mushrooms, another food that is considered to be great for your immune system.
Pomegranate helps boost your immune system due to its strong antioxidant properties, and it may also help fight pathogenic bacteria and viruses.
Studies on the effects of pomegranate polyphenol extract on human influenza A showed significant anti-viral and anti-influenza properties in vitro. It was also capable of boosting the anti-influenza effects comparable to the common anti-influenza drug, Tamiflu. The polyphenol punicalagin was found to be the effective, anti-influenza component of the pomegranate extract, even though the extract also contained other polyphenols such as ellagic acid, caffeic acid, and luteolin. This study appeared in the December 2009 issue of the journal Phytomedicine. Pomegranate seeds are awesome sprinkled over dinner, in salads, mixed into your yogurt, or just nibbled as a snack.
5) Citrus Fruit
Like kiwifruit, citrus is a winter crop. And if you live in California like I do, you see it all over the place! You probably even have some citrus growing in your own yard. Eating a variety of citrus fruit all week long will give you a great balance of vitamin A, vitamin C, folate, and vitamin B6, in addition to good amounts of other vitamins and minerals that your body needs to function properly, including potassium, phosphorous, magnesium and copper.
Additionally, they are rich in plant compounds that have various health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. These compounds include over 60 varieties of flavonoids, carotenoids and essential oils. My favorite way to eat citrus is just on the go! Because they are in a peel they are easy to carry around and they don’t go bad if you forget about them and leave them on your desk or in your backpack. Just peel and eat this amazing, immune-boosting and very tasty food.
One More Thought on Foods that Boost Your Immune System
In general, a strong, well nourished body can do a better job resisting unwanted viruses and sickness. The top of your list can always just include a good variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, particularly the orange, yellow, or red colored foods that contain carotenoids and other antioxidants. Let that be your foundation in your daily meal planning, then build on from there with all the other great, nutritious foods you like to enjoy. Making a daily habit of this could make you less likely to get nabbed by surprise by the next flu epidemic.
If you’ve enjoyed reading about winter foods that boost your immune system, you may consider learning more about how to navigate your food supply for optimal health and wellness. A detailed nutrition plan that includes dietary recommendations, meal planning help, and targeted supplementation can help provide you with the kind of nutritional support your body can truly benefit from. You can schedule a complimentary phone consultation or book a New Client Nutrition Consultation & Assessment, and start your journey as a well informed, stronger and more vibrant you today!
Check out another article about February superfoods that can support your immune system.