Cold and flu season is on the rise, and while it may be difficult to avoid those pesky germs altogether, you can take steps to build your immune system (starting with what you eat). The best part? Many of these immune-boosting superheroes can be found at your local supermarket – without breaking the bank. Here are 7 foods to incorporate into your diet this season and beyond!
We’ve got the bees to thank for this one! Honey has been used as an alternative health treatment since ancient times – and for good reason. In fact, studies have shown that this golden powerhouse acts as a natural anti-inflammatory and may support immune regulation. Look for a pure, raw honey and drizzle into your tea, use as a natural sweetener or take a spoonful right out of the jar!
A member of the cruciferous vegetable family, broccoli is a friend to the immune system as well. Research shows that this green veggie contains anticancer and antioxidant properties – not just in the florets but the leaves and stems too! Dip raw broccoli in hummus, or enjoy lightly steamed with garlic, lemon and a pinch of sea salt as a healthy side dish.
Edible mushrooms have been gaining a lot of buzz lately, but they’ve actually been around for thousands of years. Perhaps it’s because of their powerful medicinal properties – acting as an antibacterial and immune system enhancer! Look for a variety of edible mushrooms to add into your diet – including shiitake, oyster and Reishi.
4. Lemon & Citrus Fruits
Lemons and other citrus fruits don’t only offer up a refreshing boost, but they may boost your immunity as well! Recent studies show that citrus foods – like oranges, lemons and limes – have antimicrobial properties, meaning they may have your back against fighting off unwanted bacteria. Squeeze fresh lemon into your water for a hydrating twist.
Not only are they delicious, but berries are jam-packed with antioxidants, and are among the highest sources of bioactive compounds (BAC). Due to their rich vitamin and phytochemical content, these small but mighty superfoods can support the digestive and immune system function. Blend into your smoothies or top off your yogurt for a fruity health boost!
While garlic may not be the best for your breath, it can have a positive effect on your health. Studies indicate that garlic has been shown to enhance the functioning of the immune system with additional anti-inflammatory effects. Win, win. Add to your soups, stews and sautéed veggies to reap the benefits!
7. Leafy Greens
Popeye was onto something: leafy greens like spinach and kale are chock-full of nutrients. With Vitamins A, D, E and K, they pack an anti-inflammatory punch to help keep you healthy! Get your green fix with raw salads, green smoothies and sautés.
Note: These suggestions are meant to act as a guide. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider when implementing any drastic changes to your diet or healthcare routine.