7 Foods to Boost Your Immune System This Cold and Flu Season

When cold weather sets in, cold and flu viruses thrive, and it might seem like everyone you know is coughing and sneezing. Both of the viruses that cause the common cold and influenza travel through the air. In the winter, dry, cold air helps these germs spread.

But just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to get sick. Your immune system fights bacteria and viruses that can make you sick, keeping them from invading your body. When you do get a cold or the flu, it’s because your immune system wasn’t strong enough to block the virus.

Did you know there are steps you can take to boost your immune system? Along with healthy habits such as washing your hands regularly, eating a healthy diet strengthens your immune system,making it less likely you’ll get a cold or the flu this winter.

Our team at Chicago Immediate Care is here to share seven foods to add to your diet for their immune-boosting power. But if you come down with a cold or the flu, you can find expert care at our three locations across Chicagoland.

1. Citrus fruits

Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, and limes are citrus fruits high in vitamin C, and these fruits are a popular remedy for boosting immune health. Vitamin C is an essential nutrient, and you need a daily dose of it for ongoing health.

Vitamin C enhances your immune system function because it’s linked to increased production of white blood cells. Vitamin C can help keep your immune system strong — and if you do catch a cold, it may also reduce the duration of your cold, helping you feel better faster.

2. Green tea

Curling up with a warm cup of tea in the winter is relaxing, but it can also boost immune health. Green tea contains flavonoids and epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), antioxidants that keep your immune system strong. 

Other types of tea, like black tea, have some antioxidants and other health benefits, but the high level of EGCG and low amount of caffeine in green tea make it a powerhouse for your immune system.

3. Spinach

Spinach is a superfood for your immune system and overall health. It contains vitamin C, which plays a role in immune health, but it also has antioxidants and beta carotene, a precursor of vitamin A. These nutrients can make it easier for your immune system to defend against viruses.

A quick stir fry enhances spinach’s beta carotene, but cooking too long destroys the vitamin C. Cook it for only a minute, or add raw spinach to sandwiches and salads for a health boost.

4. Broccoli

Like many other green veggies, broccoli contains numerous vitamins and minerals essential to health. Broccoli has vitamins A, C, and E. It also has antioxidants and fiber to boost health and strengthen the immune system.

Adding broccoli to your diet can contribute to your health in more ways than one. Like with spinach, you reap the most benefits from broccoli when it’s raw or lightly cooked.

5. Garlic

Garlic is a popular seasoning for many types of cuisine, but it also has health benefits. Adding garlic to your diet can help your body fight infection. It contains allicin, a compound that boosts your immune system.

Garlic may also help regulate blood pressure and reduce hardening of arteries, meaning it offers heart-healthy benefits too.

6. Blueberries

Like green tea, blueberries have flavonoids for immune health. The flavonoid in blueberries is anthocyanin, an antioxidant that enhances and strengthens your immune system, particularly in the upper respiratory tract.

Regularly eating blueberries and other foods with high levels of flavonoids may make it less likely you’ll suffer from upper respiratory infections, like the common cold.

7. Yogurt

Plain yogurt that contains live and active cultures can stimulate your immune system. These cultures are good for your gut, but they can also help your body fight against viruses. Some yogurt is fortified with vitamin D, which can also increase your immune system’s ability to fight germs

If you add yogurt to your diet for its immune-boosting benefits, look for plain yogurts without added flavors and sugar. Instead, sweeten plain yogurt with honey or fruit.

Whether you or a loved one is feeling under the weather this winter or you’re looking for ways to protect yourself from common winter bugs, we can help. If you need a sick visit, call one of our offices in Lombard, Lisle, or Lincolnwood, Illinois, or book an appointment online today.

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