When the cold and flu season comes around, many people get sick. This year, the flu is still on the rise, according to the newest report from the US Centers for Disease Control. However, many of us can probably name someone around us who always seems to be unaffected by the number of sick people that surround them. Have you ever wondered why? The reason is individual’s immune system. Having a strong immune system is the best way to fend off flu virus or other disease-causing microorganisms. While the immune system is quite complex and is affected by many factors, adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is the best natural way to keep it strong and healthy. See the following food remedies to help strengthen your immunity all year round and to recover from an illness quicker!
1. Colorful fruits and vegetables
Many have heard a saying that goes “an apple a day to keep the doctor away.” In fact, it takes much more than that. Eating a well-balanced diet that includes colorful fruits and vegetables ensures that you get a good mix of essential vitamins, such as vitamin A and C, which are powerful antioxidants that help the body build its immunity cells. Furthermore, many studies show that vitamin C helps to reduce cold symptoms as well! Colorful bell peppers, broccoli, brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes, papaya, citrus fruits, kiwi, tomatoes are just some examples of the goodies that will help you boost your immunity!
Increasing bodies of research show that gut health is closely linked to immune function. Probiotics are good and friendly bacteria that help you maintain the balance of gut microbiome for a happier and healthier digestive system, which contains about 80% of your immune cells. When the body experiences an imbalance of gut bacteria, the immune system may be compromised. Individuals may be more prone to having minor illnesses such as cold and flu. In order to maintain a proper balance of gut bacteria, add probiotic-rich foods into your diet, including fermented dairy products like yogurt, kefir and cheese, and fermented vegetables such as kimchi. Don’t forget to eat more prebiotic foods to stimulate the growth of good bacteria in the gut! Read our post on Probiotics and Prebiotics for more information!
Mushrooms are not only tasty and nutritious, they are also linked to boosting the immune system. Studies shows that mushrooms can increase the production of cytokines, which help the body battle off infections. They are also rich in polysaccharides that can enhance immune function. Similar to fruits and vegetables, mushrooms are rich in antioxidants that can help lowering inflammation. In addition, mushrooms are high in some B vitamins including niacin and pantothenic acid, and the mineral selenium that can further support the immune system. Some common mushrooms that we see on the market are shiitake, maitake, oyster, cremini, and white button mushrooms.
Ginger is a powerful antioxidant with anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial propertiies, as shown in a 2013 review published by the International Journal of Preventive Medicine. Because of this, ginger is an effective herbal remedy for a wide range of medical conditions including the common cold and flu. Ginger can ease sore throat because of its anti-inflammatory properties. It contains gingerol and shogaol, which are antimicrobial chemicals that can help fighting cold and flu viruses. Ginger, as we all know, is very versatile for culinary use! Add this spice to flavor your stir-fry dishes, stews, soups and more to bring out its health benefits. In times of cold or flu, make yourself a warm cup of ginger tea with a good tablespoon of freshly shredded ginger root! Besides the above nutrition tips, it is also important to have adequate sleep to help the body restore energy, since sleep deprivation can suppress immune function. Finally, adopting a healthy lifestyle with regular exercise can also help you build a strong immune system and may greatly reduce your chances of getting sick.
Interested in learning about weight goal and nutrition needs? Schedule a free body weight and % body fat analysis with Our Smart Eater Dietitians at 626-283-5128 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.