Interested in gaining a little advantage over all those nasty viruses this cold and flu season? Here’s a great way to bolster your defenses: with food! Bring this list to the grocery store and fill your shopping cart with immune-boosting yummies.
Good for fighting vampires and colds, garlic has been used as a traditional remedy for generations. And now there’s research to back it up. For example, in a British study, people given garlic extract for 12 weeks were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold than those given placebo.
Berries are loaded with vitamin C and other phytonutrients that help improve white blood cell function. My favourites are strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but blueberries are wonderful too. And don’t forget cranberries—added bonus: cranberries help fight urinary tract infections.
Yogurt contains a beautiful thing: probiotics. The benefits of probiotics are many: decreased yeast infections, improved symptoms due to IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), and rebalanced gut flora after a course of antibiotics. And now, to boot, studies show that probiotics may help prevent colds and the flu. Children in daycare who were given daily probiotics had fewer fevers, coughing episodes, and nasal congestion.
Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, a known virus-fighter. Grapefruit is also a great source of the antioxidant lycopene—especially the pink and red varieties.
Mushrooms are high in selenium, which is an important mineral for a fully-functioning immune system. The humble mushroom is also full of B vitamins, and zinc—a key weapon against infection.
You might think of watermelon as a summer treat only, but there’s good reason to enjoy a slice during the winter, too. Watermelon is a great source of glutathione—a potent antioxidant that improves immune function. Other sources of glutathione: asparagus, cabbage and cauliflower.
Spinach is rich in folate (which helps repair DNA and produce new cells), vitamin C and other antioxidants. Don’t stop at spinach, though—include other green leafies, like kale and broccoli.
Both green and black tea are rich in polyphenols and flavonoids, fabulous antioxidants. Tea also contains L-theanine, a substance that was shown to boost white blood cell function in a 2009 Harvard study.
Not just an aphrodisiac, oysters are one of the best dietary sources of zinc…and zinc is an important mineral for fighting colds and the flu. If oysters aren’t your thing, try these other zinc-rich foods: wheat germ and eggs.
Eat, drink, and be healthy.