To build up a strong immune system, you can’t just eat an orange once and call it a day. The “system” needs to be constantly pampered with a balanced mix of vitamins, minerals and TLC over time. Incorporate these foods into your weekly routine and you’ll be much better armed during cold and flu season.
Pumpkin Seeds. These tiny gems are packed with zinc, which protects your cell membranes by fighting off free radicals (like tiny missiles constantly guarding your organs and tissues from issues) and supports overall immune function. Enjoy these “pepitas” by themselves, in a trail mix, or as a crunchy soup topper. Love a good crunch? Eat them with the shells on for extra fiber.
(Other sources of zinc: oysters, shellfish, meat, eggs, whole grains, nuts)
Garlic. While big expensive studies are lacking, preliminary research suggests that garlic can help prevent the onset and shorten the duration of the common cold. And in lab studies, garlic can kick some viral a**. Try it minced and sautéed with veggies, roast it and incorporate into pesto, or go hardcore and eat the cloves raw and whole. Just be sure to chase it with a breath freshener or mint.
Spinach. Leafy greens are an excellent source of beta-carotene, the provitamin that gets converted into vitamin A and contributes to the growth and repair of the body’s tissues. Think: the nasal passages, your GI tract, and your skin — all of which are barriers to germy intruders. Enjoy spinach and other leafy greens sautéed with garlic for even more immune ammo. Not into Popeye’s mojo? Puree it into smoothies, soups, and pasta sauces and you won’t even know it’s there.
(Other sources of beta-carotene: kale or swiss chard, sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, pumpkin)
Berries. We often think of oranges as immune-boosting because of their famed vitamin C content, and they are! But berries like strawberries, blueberries, cranberries and raspberries are bursting not only with vitamin C but also other powerful antioxidants like anthocyanins and quercetin which deliver a KO punch against inflammation and pesky free radicals. Berries not in season? Frozen berries are often even more nutritious than fresh, which can lose their luster in long transit. Our blueberry-apple granola bites (Berry’d Treasure) deliver these antioxidant gems and fiber-rich oats to help keep your body’s natural detox system going strong.
Chicken Soup. It’s not just a myth, your mom’s chicken soup actually does have healing properties. The heat from hot beverages keeps your nasal passages moist and lubricated, which increases the flow of mucus and helps wash germs out of your body. Homemade broths are also a jackpot of vitamins and minerals needed to build up your defenses. Toss in extra veggies and herbs like carrots, celery, garlic and onions to give your chicken soup magical powers.
Other Defense Strategies
Remember to get at least 7 hours of sleep, exercise regularly to keep your blood circulating, and stay well hydrated to flush out toxins. Scientists think we get sick more often in the colder months because we spend more time indoors, germinating with our germy selves (and friends and family). So bundle up and enjoy some fresh air!
And 3 Final Words…
Wash. Your. Hands.