During cold winter months, there’s only one thing on your mind — supporting your immune system so you can be at your best and brightest. After all, you have places to be and a million fun things to do! There are some foods that can provide an extra helping of immune support. Here are five tips to help you keep support your immune system.
Stay Hydrated and Pack in Nutrients with Broth-Based Soups
Broth-based soups, especially chicken soup, is a time-honored tradition. But there’s more to it than folklore and hydrating with broths. Amino acids in chicken can help you stay healthy during the winter months.1 Vegetable broth is good for you too, though it isn’t as high in nutrients as its name might suggest. A cup of vegetable broth only provides 10% of the vitamin A you need each day, and vegetable broth offers very few other vitamins. Regardless which broth you choose, add other healthy ingredients as well. Just keep an eye on the sodium content, especially if you use store-bought broths.
Sip Herbal Teas for a Wellness Boost
Many teas contain antioxidant properties that help give your system a wellness boost. Here are a few of our favorite herbal teas:
- Ginger Tea - Tea made from ginger root provides digestive support.
- Turmeric Tea - Turmeric contains a powerful antioxidant and has tummy-soothing properties.
- Peppermint Tea – Tea containing peppermint can help support the digestive system.
- Licorice Teas - Licorice is an antioxidant that helps support the immune system.
Add honey to your herbal tea for additional health benefits.
Add Healthy Carbohydrates for Energy
If you skimp on carbs, your body won’t produce as much glucose, which means you’ll have less energy. To keep your energy up, choose optimal carb sources like barley, oats, quinoa, beans, potatoes, yams, and carrots. Many of these energy-packed carbs can be added to your broth-based soups.
Pick Foods High in Immune Health Vitamins and Nutrients
Your system needs a variety of vitamins and nutrients to stay healthy, so add food to your diet that are high in immune health vitamins and nutrients. These foods are good for supporting your immune system:
- Vitamin C - Strawberries, broccoli, bell peppers, and citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C.
- Vitamin D - Cod liver oil, salmon, tuna, eggs and, of course, sunlight provide your body with Vitamin D.
- Zinc - Pumpkin and squash seeds, pork, chicken, and beans all contain zinc.
- Vitamin B-6 - Chicken, salmon, tuna, green vegetables, and chickpeas provide vitamin B6.
- Vitamin A - Carrots, sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, and broccoli pack in vitamin A.
- L-Lysine - Lean beef, turkey, chicken, eggs, beans, and lentils are good sources of L-Lysine.
- Probiotics - Yogurt, kefir, miso, and tempeh provide probiotics.
If you are not getting enough immune health vitamins and nutrients in your diet daily, consider taking supplements for immune support.
Use Fresh Herbs in Your Winter Health Routine
Some of your everyday ingredients have wellness and immune support benefits. Here are some fresh kitchen herbs you can add to your food to help support your immune system:
- Garlic - Fresh garlic has antioxidant properties and supports cardiovascular health.
- Basil - Basil leaves contain vitamins A, C and K, plus basil supports immune health.2
- Cayenne Pepper - Cayenne supports cardiovascular and digestive health.
- Turmeric root - Turmeric has antioxidant properties, plus supports cardiovascular and digestive health.
- Ginger root - Unlike dried ginger used in herbal teas, fresh ginger has properties that support digestive health.3
- Rosemary - Rosemary is an antioxidant and good for general wellness.
By following these tips during the busy holiday season, you can help support your immune system and focus on staying healthy during the winter months. You might also like 8 Ways to Fortify Your Immune System Before Cold Weather Hits and 12 Foods to Eat for More Vitamin C.
About Lindsey Bristol, MS, RD
1 The Healing Powers of Chicken Soup. Duke University. https://studentaffairs.duke.edu/blog-entry/healing-powers-chicken-soup (Accessed 12/4/2017)
2 Leafy Medicinal Herbs: Botany, Chemistry, Postharvest Technology and Uses: Centre for Agriculture and Biosciences International.https://books.google.com/books?id=wwLpDAAAQBAJ (Accessed 12/4/2017)
3 Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines: PubMed. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23123794 (Accessed 12/4/2017)