Remaining healthy throughout the year is more than just staying on top of your routine medical check-ups and reaching for the decongestants at the first sign of the sniffles. It’s also essential to make sure you’re eating a nutritious and balanced diet, too. While many people may mistakenly believe that simply taking a multivitamin on top of a steady stream of convenience or highly processed foods would be sufficient, the fact of the matter is that many of these nutrients are synergistic in nature. In other words, to be healthy, you need to eat healthy.
Fortunately, the foods you need to consume to prevent seasonal disease are also surprisingly delicious, which means you won’t have to struggle to get them down – or keep unwanted sickness at bay! If you’re striving to stay healthy this winter, instead of stressing about everything you need to avoid to ward off winter woes, focus on the tasty foods you can introduce to keep you both happy and healthy. These five types of food are veritable immune powerhouses, so why not create a recipe or two with them today?
The Humble Broccoli
This crunchy crucifer has a bit of a bad rap, but don’t let the fragrant bouquets from your childhood deter you from enjoying the numerous health benefits of broccoli as an adult. When prepared properly, broccoli can be a fantastic accompaniment to your dinner plate. Roasted in olive oil and garlic or thrown into a savory stir-fry, broccoli isn’t just tasty, but it’s also highly nutritious. With a staggering 135% of your recommended daily allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C in just one cup, you’ll be bidding farewell to any lurking colds before they can make their first appearance when you help yourself to this veggie.
A Soothing Cup of Tea
If you’re feeling peckish between meals or you want a nice little pick-me-up during the midday slump, skip the coffee and instead treat yourself to a different type of brewed beverage. Green tea is going to be your new best friend this winter. Not only does it warm you up from the inside, but it’s also loaded with immunity-boosting antioxidants and polyphenols to keep your immune system in prime fighting shape. Feel free to add a touch of honey (which has its own immune-bolstering benefits) to your warm drink, but don’t overdo it. Consuming too much sugar can backfire, lowering your body’s defenses.
Add in Some Flavor
Eating right for your immune system does not have to be bland. In fact, many aromatic savory herbs and spices contain good-for-you compounds within them. Take, for instance, basil. Anti-viral and anti-inflammatory, this herb will be in your corner of the ring next time you go toe-to-toe with the flu. Cloves and ginger aren’t just good for cookies, either. They also have potent anti-fungal, anti-viral, and anti-bacterial properties. And don’t overlook the humble turmeric, which contains all of the aforementioned benefits and can also help reduce oxidative stress.
Reach for the Citrus
You’re already familiar with how great antioxidants and Vitamin C are for your immune system, so it’ll likely come as no surprise to you that citrus fruits will be one of the best nutritional choices you can make this winter. Adding a squeeze of lemon juice to your green tea will help you double down on the benefits of both of these foods, but don’t stop there. Peel an orange and have one with your lunch, or even add a few slices of tart and juicy grapefruit to your next salad. No matter how you serve it up, you’ll be getting a nice portion of immune-enhancing benefits with every bite.
Pump That Iron
Of course, you don’t want to overlook the value of iron-rich foods in your immune-strengthening diet. This mineral does the heavy lifting in your diet – no pun intended! Responsible for creating those immune cells that fight so hard for you when your defenses are down, iron will give your immune system the support it needs to keep you healthy. You can find it in protein-rich foods such as beans, beef, chicken, and tuna fish. It’s also in broccoli, spinach, dried figs, and raisins. Help yourself to a few portions a day and you’ll feel yourself feeling right as rain throughout the drizzly colder months.
Avoiding Winter Illnesses
In addition to including these five foods in your diet, there are a few other things you can do to stay healthy this winter season. For starters, it’s always a good idea to make sure you are up to date on your vaccinations. This can help make sure your body knows how to fight off any germs that try to invade your system. You should also make sleep a priority, as restless nights can lower your immunity and lead to illness. Similarly, try to manage your stress levels. Fortunately, the wintertime is a wonderful time for all sorts of fun outdoor activities, so why not take it out on a day of ice skating or snowshoeing?
Good hygiene is also important, as it can help make sure viruses and bacteria aren’t spreading from person to person. Wash your hands for at least thirty seconds after coughing or sneezing, as well as after using the restroom and before eating. Avoid touching your face, as these areas are entry points for illness-causing germs. If you’re asking yourself, “Are sinus infections contagious?” (as well as other common illnesses such as the flu and pneumonia), the answer is yes. They certainly can be. Therefore, if you find yourself needing to cough or sneeze, cover your nose and mouth to help prevent the spread of disease.
Ultimately, staying healthy can come with its own set of challenges, especially when trying to stay on top of your other everyday responsibilities. However, the good news is that you don’t have to deal with the misery of a seasonal bug this year. By simply implementing these five foods – as well as a few basic lifestyle tweaks – you can enjoy this winter with nary a sniffle or a cough. And if you do happen to find yourself staring into a half-empty box of facial tissue, you can rest assured you’ll heal faster than before, all thanks to your indomitable immune system at work!