During the holidays and the chilly winter season, we tend to gather more often with others indoors. As a result, flu and cold viruses quickly make their way around. You can protect yourself and your family from illness by wearing masks, washing your hands, and getting flu shots.
However, you can also be mindful of what you eat and drink as a preventative measure to stay healthier. Consider adding the following foods to your diet to keep your immune system humming along—no matter what time of year it is.
These powerful berries contain antioxidants that have been proven to aid the respiratory tract defense system. Add 1/2 cup to one whole cup of blueberries to your cereal, oatmeal, smoothie, salads or yogurt every day.
Oily fish such as tuna, salmon, anchovies and sardines are packed with Omega-3 healthy fats that can reduce inflammation and the risk of chronic diseases and heart disease. It’s recommended to eat two servings per week at three ounces per serving.
This crunchy, dark green vegetable is packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, true heros fighting for your immune system. Some studies have shown that 2-3 servings per week may help to reduce risk of certain cancers. Try adding one cup of cooked or raw broccoli to your meals at least twice a week for its health benefits.
Another dark green vegetable, spinach is a powerhouse when it comes your immune system. It’s packed with vitamins A and C that are known to enhance immune system function, as well as carotenoids and flavonoids that help prevent the common cold in healthy individuals. Add two cups of dark, leafy greens such as spinach to your food intake every day to get the most benefit from its nutrients. Spinach is great cooked as a side dish or raw in salads and smoothies.
Ginger is a slightly spicy, warming ingredient with anti-inflammatory properties. It can be cooked into your favorite dishes, added to smoothies, or enjoyed with a cup of tea. Ginger has been known to calm upset stomachs and soothe sore throats. Try adding a tablespoon of grated or chopped ginger to your next stir fry or soup recipe. If you’re feeling unwell, add a few slices to a cup of warm lemon water as a way to stay hydrated.
While we don’t suggest a restrictive diet any time of year, we do suggest being aware of certain foods. Consider limiting:
- Fried foods
- Fast food
- Soda and sugary drinks
- Alcohol and caffeine
Indulging in eggnog and pumpkin pie happens, so don’t be too hard on yourself this holiday season! Give yourself permission to enjoy your favorite holiday treats and allow yourself to truly savor them. Just keep in mind your portions and sugar intake and remember to eat a healthy, balanced diet full of fruits, vegetables and lean protein.