EEK! The dreaded cold and flu season is upon us. Besides the obvious suggestions like frequent hand washing, bumping up the cleaning of commonly touched surfaces, and avoid sharing food, what else can we do? Consider the foods you are eating – or not eating – to strengthen that invisible force field against winter illness. The foods we are discussing here are listed in no particular order. We love them all. And obviously, there are more than these 10 foods that your body is craving for this time of year to building up that solid wall of defense against the common cold and dreaded flu. In short, eat fruit, eat veggies, eat colorful, and drink often (water and tea, that is).
- Oranges (and other citrus fruits). Citrus fruits are packed with the often hyped up vitamin C, which is a super strong antioxidant to help boost immunity. The phytochemical limonoid, has been found to have an antiviral, anti fungal, and antibacterial effect in the body. And if you choose to drink the juice, always opt for the pulp – it’s packed with limonoids!
- Pomegranates. The seeds or the juice, however you want to consume this tart and tasty fruit is fine. Pomegranates have amazing anti-inflammatory properties to keep potential illness at bay. What does “anti-inflammatory” mean? Just think of it as a bonus offered by foods to put out little fires of potential harm in your body. The more anti-inflammatory foods, the better off we are.
- Green Tea. So green tea is more of a beverage than a food, but you get where I’m going here. This drink is loaded with goodies for your bod. If caffeine isn’t a concern for you, drink a couple mugs each day. Green tea contains a plant compound called catechins which work in the body to negate the oxidation that is going down. Think of catechins as little storm troopers fighting off the bad guys. Want an extra kick of protection? Throw in a slice of lemon, a handful of pomegranate seeds, or a spoonful of honey.
- Salmon. Buy it often and buy it wild. You aren’t getting the goodness of salmon when you purchase the farmed variety, so don’t be bashful about being picky with your salmon selection. In keeping with the saying “you are what you eat”, salmon follows suit. Your salmon must have eaten shrimp and krill to get the goodies it needs to offer the antioxidant and healthy fat qualities you are looking for.
- Sweet potatoes. If you helped yourself to a big dollop of sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving, good for you! You started your cold/flu fighting right there at the table. Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A, potassium, and an anti-inflammatory called quercetin. Check out our Dreamy Vanilla Sweet Potato post for a yummy recipe!
- Blueberries. This well-known health gem is super rich in color and nutrients. Their high amount of polyphenols and vitamin C are so important to keep you healthy. According to The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth by Jonny Bowden, blueberries are among the top foods that have high oxygen radical absorbance capacity. What’s that? It means your body is getting a serious dose of protection from illness when you eat these babies. Don’t avoid blueberries in the winter just because they aren’t in season. Grab a bag from the frozen section and use them in a smoothie!
- Walnuts. If you are looking for omega-3’s, you can find them here. They have a serious serving of protein, fiber, phosphorus, and potassium. Another bonus? They support brain function and boost your mood, thanks to the healthy fats. This is especially important in the winter months when we can feel down in the dumps from reduced exposure to sunlight and hormonal changes. Recent studies have shown that a lack of omega-3’s in the diet can lead to depression. Be sure you are including nuts in your diet daily! Sometimes I like a little dish of nuts to munch on while I’m working on the computer.
- Spinach. Popeye wasn’t messing around. This dark leafy green is high in vitamin A and C. Include spinach in your salad or cook it down with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. Since vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin, you will need to eat it with a bit of fat in order for your body to optimally absorb the vitamin. So ditch the fat-free salad dressing! A quick mix of olive oil and balsamic vinegar is a tasty mixture with some fat to help your body reign in the nutrients.
- Prunes. What? Prunes? Not just found in your irregular grandma’s pantry, these babies are rocking with antioxidants most other foods can’t touch. They are loaded with potassium, iron, vitamin A and C, and protective phytonutrients. The 150 Healthiest Foods on Earth mentions prunes as having more antioxidant power than blueberries. Yowza!
- Bananas. They seem to be a staple in our grocery cart because they are easy to transport as a snack, quick to eat, and so filling! The smoothie pictured here contains a whole banana and a generous helping of frozen blueberries – 2 super foods in 1! The source of potassium in bananas is also a great way maintain fluid and electrolyte balance in the body. Pumping fluids into a body balanced in this way is a great way to keep those toxins movin’ on out!
You don’t need to get sick this season. Incorporate these foods whenever possible to master the art of winter wellness!
How do you beat the winter bugs?
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