Even though we do our best to eat well and stay healthy all year around, with the end of summer we see shorter days signaling the approach of colder weather–and with that, the dreaded cold and flu season. It is believed that we see such a rise in cold and flu infections in the fall and winter because we don’t get enough sun to help us produce vitamin D, which is an essential immune boosting nutrient. Since these viruses are highly contagious and can live outside of a host, it is always a good idea to take certain measures to avoid getting sick. The most common advice for avoiding illness is to wash your hands, avoid touching your face, get plenty of rest, exercise, and reduce stress. All of these have great effect on staying healthy. There are also several foods you can include in your diet that can help boost your immune system to give your body better fighting chance when you come in contact with these viruses.
Garlic: Garlic contains more than 100 sulfuric compounds that can help wipe out any bacteria or virus that might be residing in your body. Even though eating raw garlic is most effective cooked garlic can do the trick as well. Be sure to slice or mince your garlic at least 15 minutes before cooking because this helps break down cell structures and activates the most potent enzyme reactions.
Green Tea: We all know that green tea is good for us. It contains antioxidants called polyphenols and catechins that help protect your immune system. A specific polyphenol called EGCG helps boost regulatory T-Cells in the immune system. a cup of green tea with lemon is a great way to relax .
Soluble Fiber: Good sources of soluble fiber are oat bran, barley, nuts, seeds, lentils, citrus fruits, apples, strawberries and carrots. When you have an infection, your natural biological response is inflammation to try and remove harmful stimuli. Soluble fiber provides an anti-inflammatory effect and helps immune cells go into healing mode.
Mushrooms: Scientists are beginning to understand the powerful phytochemicals in mushrooms. Simple mushroom have been shown to boost natural killer T cells of the immune system working to wipe out bacteria and viruses. Mushrooms are high in vitamin D, as well as, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds. They are also high in anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.
Also by Krystle: 5 Essential Nutrients for Vegans and How to Get Them
Photo: Kirikiri via Flickr