No matter where you go this time of year, you’re sure to hear the people around you coughing and sneezing. It's winter, and we're right in the throes of another cold and flu season. The last thing you want is to get sick right now, and aside from wearing one of those surgical anti-germ masks, how else can you prevent getting a cold? No worries! I have a list of the top ten best foods to boost your immune system to keep you, and your family, from getting the sniffles! Notice that most of them are healthful foods anyway, loaded with free-radical busting anti-oxidants and all sorts of fantastic vitamins!
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Yogurt contains a host of “good” bacteria, called probiotics, that help your immune system fight off nasty bacteria and germs. Add some diced fresh fruit and it’s a tasty, healthful snack, or part of an ideal breakfastfor a gal who’s dieting. Make sure the yogurt you’re eating is low-fat, and that it’s labeled as containing “live” or “active” cultures.
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Aside from warding off vampires, being a great aphrodisiac to get your sexy backand making your spaghetti sauce delicious, garlic can also boost your immune system with its smelly sulfur-related compounds. That’s right — the same compounds that make garlic super-stinky also make it ideal for fighting bacterial, fungal, parasitic, and viral infections. It’s also chock full of antioxidants.It may leave you reaching for your breath mints, but it’s really something of a wonder food!
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Another food we add to our spaghetti sauce is also valuable in fending off the cold and flu viruses — perky little oregano. Didn't know that little food secretdid ya? Suffering from indigestion? Try a little oregano to help cure that too.
4. Red Bell Peppers
The debate has been raging for decades — does Vitamin C in large doses help combat colds and fight flus? The answer is a resounding, very scientific MAYBE. But red bell peppers have the most Vitamin C ounce per ounce of any food (including oranges!), so if you’re in the camp that believes Vitamin C does prevent colds, then slice up some of this tasty little low-calorie pepper, and enjoy!
5. Green Tea
Über-rich in plant anti-oxidants, green tea is the drink of choice for fighting off the flu. One of the tea’s anti-oxidants, EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) has even been shown to stop or slow down the growth of cancer cells. Because it’s served steamy hot and soothing in the winter, or refreshingly cold in the summer, it’s a perfect year-round defense!
Most people only eat them in pies during the fall holidays, but those pretty orange pumpkins are loaded with Vitamin A and beta-carotine, both of which give your immune systems a boost. If you’re not fond of pumpkin, try sweet potatoes, or any other orange-color squash! Remember, the brighter orange the squash is, the more beta-carotine it will have. So put that on your next grocery list.
As a woman who suffered intensely from morning sickness the entire time I was pregnant, I can attest to ginger’s brilliant anti-nausea properties. But old wives’ tales swear by drinking ginger tea or bathing in ginger while sick with a cold, because it helps you “sweat out” the germs that make you feel ill. I don’t know if that’s true, but my grandmother swears by it!
8. Broccoli and Cauliflower
Two of my favorite veggie-tray staples are also ultra-rich in Vitamins A, C, and E, your “ace in the hole” when it comes to fighting off the cold and flu. They’re also relatively easy to find, even in the middle of winter, and both make perfectly tasty treats! Just dip in a little low-fat ranch dressing, and you have an anti-oxidant rich, immunity-boosting treat!
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Just like pumpkin and other squashes, carrots are bright orange and therefore rich in beta-carotine. Fresh carrots are best, and they make a great snack for school and work. With or without a side of low-fat ranch dressing to dip them in, carrots are a great way to go!
Blueberries are also loaded with anti-oxidants, which makes them a fantastic immunity booster besides keeping you gorgeous. They’re also delicious, which makes them an obvious choice for even the pickiest of eaters. And like cranberries, they’re perfect for preventing UTIs, because they prevent the E. Coli bacteria from sticking to the cells that line our urinary tracts.
Most of these foods are so delicious, I'd eat them even if they didn't help boost our immune systems! What's your secret food trick to staying germ-free this winter? Which foods help give your immune system a boost? Please let me know!
Top Photo Credit: Sara. Nel