By Helen Kwon
Registered Holistic Nutritionists and Reiki Master
Cold and flu season is here. But don’t let that cramp your style and limit you from doing what you love! Now is the time to strengthen your immune system so you can do your favourite activities all winter long. Food plays an integral role when it comes to your overall health. Use the power of these nutrient-dense foods as a preventative tool to strengthen your immune system.
5 Top Immune-Boosting Foods
Over 70% of our immune system resides in our gut. Fermented foods contain probiotics (beneficial bacteria) that support a healthy microbiome, which helps boost our immune system and keeps us healthy. Consider adding some yogurt, natural pickles, kimchi, sauerkraut, kombucha or miso to your meal.
Vitamin C Foods
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and water-soluble nutrient that has long been touted as the ‘go to’ nutrient to combat or even prevent the onset of colds and flus. Your body cannot make or store vitamin C, so make sure you are consuming vitamin C foods on a daily basis to maintain a strong immune system. Our favourites are bell peppers, tomatoes, squash, citrus fruit and berries.
Vitamin D Foods
As sunlight diminishes during the winter months, it is important to get your daily dose of vitamin D through other sources, like food. Deficiency in vitamin D can lower our immunity. Foods high in this nutrient such as eggs, wild-caught salmon, mackerel, sardines and mushrooms can help to increase your vitamin D levels, fortifying your immunity.
Foods high in Zinc
This key antioxidant mineral helps to keep your immune system robust and healthy. Consuming foods high in this mineral such as organic meats, nuts & seeds, shellfish and dark chocolate will keep your immune system strong. As an added bonus, dark chocolate contains theobromine that may help to inhibit coughs.
Herbs and Spices
Turmeric, ginger, cinnamon, echinacea, garlic and ginseng are herbs and spices with high antioxidant values and have been used for centuries to promote a healthy body. Incorporating these herbs and spices into your daily diet can have a positive immune boosting effect.
A Balanced Lifestyle
Maintaining a clean healthy diet full of whole foods will certainly take you on the right path to great health and a strong immune system. But it doesn’t stop there. It is important to also manage your stress, get at least 7 hours of good sleep, and exercise regularly.
Enjoy the “cold and flu season” without the sniffles and coughs. Stay strong in both body and mind. Embrace life and be grateful for the beauty that surrounds you. Happy Winter!