With the current pandemic, along with flu season and colder, winter temperatures, it’s no surprise that many of us are feeling a bit ‘under the weather’. Now more than ever, it’s important to nourish our bodies and strengthen our immune system. Before you go running to grab some EmergenC, make a stop at your local grocery store. There are various fruits and veggies, many of which you probably already eat, that can help us ward off the common cold, or make us feel better when we do get sick. It’s common to fall into the comfort food trap while laying in bed with your (almost empty) box of tissues, when a heaping bowl of pasta sounds just like what the doctor ordered. While that’s fine, in moderation, including these vitamins and foods in your diet a great way to reduce your risk of getting sick, and, if you do catch something, help you to feel better, faster.
1. Vitamin C, our longtime friend.
Vitamin C has been proven time and time again to be your immune system’s BFF. It’s thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key in fighting infections. Popular citrus fruits that are packed with vitamin C include oranges, lemons, grapefruit, and papaya. Red bell peppers have the most vitamin C of any fruit or veggie, and they also pack a healthy dose of vitamin A. Make a freshly squeezed cup of OJ or have some sliced bell peppers with a dip, like hummus, for an immune system boost.
2. Vitamin A
Vitamin A helps to regulate the immure system, protecting against infections by keeping skin and tissues around the body healthy. Great sources include sweet potatoes, broccoli, apricots, eggs, and vitamin A fortified foods. Some steamed broccoli or sweet potato fries would be great ways to get in some vitamin A.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that supports immune function. It can be found in sunflower seeds, almonds, and peanut butter. Toast some bread and add on some nut butter, or have a handful of almonds for a vitamin-packed snack.
A staple in many dishes for flavor, garlic is also packed with immune boosting properties. It’s been recognized since ancient times as a cure for colds and diseases.
Found in many curries and in the more recently popular turmeric latte, this spice’s anti-inflammatory effects do great things for your overall health.
3. Green Tea
Full of antioxidants, green tea has been found to enhance immune function by producing disease-fighting compounds in your T cells.
The age-old chicken soup cure exists for a reason. Chicken is high in vitamin B-6, which is crucial in the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.
Greek yogurt is a staple breakfast, packed with probiotics that are helpful for your gut. Furthermore, yogurt is full of vitamin D, which regulates the immune system and protects our bodies against disease.
A balanced diet which includes a variety of foods is the key to strengthening our immune and overall health. Eating just one group or one of these foods won’t be enough to fight off infection. There’s no need to drive yourself crazy, measuring out each vitamin, trying to make sure you’re getting the recommended daily amount. Eating a diet based on whole foods is the best way to ensure you’re the best protected you can be.
Note: Please be aware that no food or supplement will cure disease on its own, especially with regards to the coronavirus.
1. Klemm, Contributors: Sarah. “Support Your Health with Nutrition.” EatRight, https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition.
2. Schend, James. “What to Eat and Drink to Boost Your Immune System.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 30 Apr. 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/foods-that-boost-the-immune-system#other-tips.