We are in the midst of flu season and if you have not done it yet, you get still get your flu shot to reduce your risk of getting the flu this winter. During the colder months, we spend more time indoors around other people who might be sick. While this is the season of giving, one thing we really don’t want them to give us is their illness. 

The good news is there are some steps we can take to boost our immunity. Physical activity, proper sleep, washing our hands often and staying up to date on our vaccinations, including a flu shot, are all great ways to avoid illness and stay healthy.

However, there is one more important thing we can do...eat nutrient-rich healthy food. Nutrient-rich foods can strengthen our immunity and lower our chances of getting sick. Foods such as fruits and vegetables have vitamins and minerals that can help reduce our risk of illness.  We’ve got a list of six foods to boost our immune system and stay healthy, especially over the winter months.

 

 

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    1

    RED BELL PEPPERS

    Go red! It turns out that red bell peppers have twice as much vitamin C than any other fruit or vegetable. They have nearly three times more vitamin C than an orange!  We need vitamin C to increase the production of white blood cells to fight infections.

    Red bell peppers also contain beta carotene, which can also support our immune system and reduce the risk of disease. Eat red peppers raw or when cooking, be sure to stir-fry and roast them to preserve their benefits, rather than steaming or boiling them.

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    2

    BROCCOLI

    Bring on the broccoli! This vegetable also has many nutrients such as vitamins A, C, and E, along with many antioxidants and fiber.

    Broccoli is one of the healthiest vegetables you can eat to boost your immunity. Dry cooking methods such as grilling, roasting and stir-frying retain a greater amount of nutrients than boiling. Also, try mixing it with other dishes such as with soup or in a salad for extra support.

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    3

    GARLIC

    Don’t be frightened by its odor (you can always take supplements). Garlic is one of the most common foods we can consume to reduce colds and other illnesses. This vegetable has a heavy concentration of a sulfur-containing compound known as allicin, which fights the bacteria that cause the flu, cancer, and other diseases.

    You can also try garlic supplements as they have been found to reduce the effects of a cold. A 2014 study showed that people who took garlic supplements were less sick than those who took placebo pills. Just make sure you choose the right supplement that has the same active ingredients in real garlic.

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    4

    LOW-FAT YOGURT

    Next time you’re at the supermarket, buy low-fat plain Greek yogurt. It has amazing nutrients to improve your immune system. Unlike flavored and sugar yogurt, low-fat plain yogurt has high levels of vitamins B and D to strengthen your immunity. It also contains probiotics to allow for better digestion and defense within your stomach.

    For more support, add almonds or different servings of nuts in your yogurt. They have vitamin E, which also protects your cells from damage. And for more variety, also consider mixing your yogurt with fruits, vegetables, and a bit of honey.

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    5

    TURMERIC

    If you like curry, then you should be familiar with turmeric, as it is a key ingredient in the dish. This bright yellow spice has an anti-inflammatory compound known as curcumin.

    When you mix it with tea, turmeric boosts your immune system. Some studies show it can reduce the risk of cancer and Alzheimer’s Disease. However, only a small portion of curcumin is in turmeric, so if you want the best anti-inflammatory results,  take 500 milligrams of curcumin, which is about 2-3 teaspoons.

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    6

    CHICKEN SOUP

    It turns out we should thank our parents for making us chicken soup every time we got sick.  There are actually some real health benefits. The warm broth soothes our cold and decreases nasal mucus. The chicken provides protein and important nutrients. Even if you are too sick to make soup from scratch, canned chicken soup or boxed chicken broth can work as well.