Cold weather is here, and with it comes the flu, the sniffles, and everything in between. Get your immune system ready to defend you all winter long by adding some of these tried-and-true immune-boosting foods to your diet. If you’re wondering where to start, you’re in the right place! We’ve compiled a list of the top five immune system boosters right here.
The best immune system boosting foods have high levels of beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, probiotics, and protein. Luckily, these nutrients can be found in a variety of foods, including:
- Red, yellow, and green vegetables and fruits
In addition to eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet, getting enough rest, reducing stress, and practicing good hygiene will go a long way toward keeping you healthy this winter.
To help you out, we’ll explain each of these five foods in more detail in the rest of this article, plus suggest ways to add them to your diet. So, let’s get started!
3 Best Foods to Boost the Immune System
A popular cold remedy, ginger root is packed with nutrients that encourage quick digestion, reduce stomach discomfort, and manage cell-harming free radicals. It also may have anti-inflammatory qualities that aid in strengthening the immune system.
Ginger is easy to add to your daily diet. Keep a piece of ginger root on hand (store it in the refrigerator) to add to soups and smoothies. You can also make fresh ginger tea by peeling a knob of ginger, cutting it into thin pieces, and steeping the pieces in hot water for at least 10 minutes. Try drinking a cup every night to ease digestion and promote a strong immune system.
Vitamin C is one of the most well-known cold remedies, and it’s found in high amounts in citrus. Although vitamin C consumed at any time strengthens the immune system’s functions, it’s most effective when taken during an illness. Increasing your vitamin C intake during a cold can shorten it and lessen its severity.
To reap the incredible benefits of vitamin C, try simply drinking a glass of orange juice every morning – that provides your daily target amount of the vitamin. You can also eat an orange or grapefruit, make a citrus-based smoothie, or add lemon juice to your water. Since vitamin C is water-soluble, fresh is the best way to consume it.
Red, orange, and green veggies and fruits
One of the best ways to give the immune system some extra help is with beta-carotene. This nutrient has a two-fold approach to boosting immunity; not only is it a powerful inflammation-reducing antioxidant, it also helps the body produce more immune system cells. It can be found in a variety of vegetables and fruits, including spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, cantaloupe, winter squash, and carrots.
Since it’s found in so many different foods, it’s easy to increase beta carotene in your diet. Try making a nightly salad full of spinach, tomatoes, broccoli, and carrots, or prepare a winter squash side dish a few days each week. You can also snack on baked sweet potatoes or cut-up cantaloupe or carrots throughout the day.
We hope this article gave you some ideas for adding more immune-boosting foods to your diet this winter. Add these foods to your meal prep plans and get ready for a happy, healthy cold weather season.