With the cold winter months upon us, it’s hard to ignore that we are more susceptible to colds and the flu. Did you know that viruses tend to live longer in cold air? So now is the time to fuel our bodies with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals found in a whole food diet. Prevention is key! Read on for my favorite immune-boosting foods that you can add into your diet to help you feel your best all winter long.
1. Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals.
Reach for red and pink grapefruits, oranges, kiwis and berries. Choose cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These fruits and veggies are not only loaded with essential vitamins and phytonutrients, but they are also rich in antioxidants, which give your immune system a boot and help build up your digestive track.
2. Add in pistachios as a heart-healthy, protein-rich snack.
Pistachios are also rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy fats to help your body absorb vitamin E, which your immune system needs to fight off invading bacteria. Pistachios are also rich in vitamin B6, which helps prevent infection and creates healthy red blood cells your body needs.
3. Look for omega 3 fatty acids and selenium found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel and herring.
These foods help white blood cells produce a protein that helps clear flu viruses out of the body. Omega 3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body by clearing the lungs’ pathways, too. This can help protect from colds and respiratory infections.
4. Make yogurt your go-to breakfast or snack.
Yogurt contains probiotics, “healthy bacteria” that your body needs to keep your immune system strong and keeps your digestive system free of disease-causing germs. Yogurt is also filled with protein that keeps your body energized and strong.
5. Spice up your food with turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
These spices are especially known to contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells and keep inflammation in the body down. I add turmeric to soups, eggs, rice and poultry. Fresh grated ginger brings warmth to any beverage. Cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal and yogurt, and easily added to anything you bake.
A certified nutritional health counselor, Sara Siskind is the founder of Hands On Healthy, cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. Sara has dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health, and how to make the right choices to look and feel your best each day. Visit her website to learn more: www.sarasiskind.com.