Cold and flu season is among us, and with that, information and options are abundant. So how do you know which solution is best for you? Well, what if one of the simple and best ways to prevent and treat the cold and flu is to start with food.
Immune-Strengthening Foods to Try this Winter Season
Flu season also happens to be pumpkin season, with Halloween and Thanksgiving around. Pumpkin contains vitamin C which is essential when fighting off the flu and cold. Also, the body converts some of the beta-carotene into vitamin A — a powerful antioxidant that is necessary to fight an illness. Also, vitamin B helps strengthen the immune system and increases the body’s ability to tolerate stress. You can use this fall staple in a variety of recipes- Pumpkin Pie Smoothie, Red Thai Curry Coconut Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Pie Overnight Oats, Pumpkin Smoothie Bowl, Vegan Pumpkin Bread, or my Buckwheat Pumpkin Pancakes.
This pungent member of the onion family contains several compounds—including allicin—that have antiviral, antifungal, and antibacterial properties. Garlic has been used as a natural remedy for centuries and helps to boost your immune system.
For those who enjoy chicken, give a try to this delicious Chicken Stir-Fry with Garlic Sauce. The simple garlic sauce will kick your immune system and help to fight away illnesses. Want to try a pescatarian option? Try this flavourful salmon dish, the Baked Lemon Garlic Salmon. Then for those who prefer a vegan option, check out the Black Lentil Salad with Garlic Cider Dressing. This colourful salad will also provide antioxidants and a variety of other important nutrients.
Ginger is a potent anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant with medicinal properties that can help soothe your throat. It’s also known as an antibacterial that helps support the immune system and help to prevent nausea and soothe an upset stomach.
You can make ginger tea with lemon and honey if you like, or make immunity shots by juicing ginger roots and adding fresh lemon juice, an apple if you like, and top with cayenne pepper. You can also usually buy them in most juice shops and health food stores.
Citrus fruits may increase your immunity with its rich source of vitamin C. Citrus fruits include fruits like oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, and limes; and some of them can be eaten by themselves, or added into water or beverages like Carrot Orange Ginger Juice, or Ginger, Lemon, and Tumeric Shots. These refreshing ginger citrus beverage staples are great to enjoy during breakfast or brunch. You could also consider adding a teaspoon of raw or local honey to help boost immunity or suppress a cough.
When you’re feeling icky first thing in the morning, breakfast may be the last thing on your mind. You could definitely start your day with a ginger tea, a green juice with lemon and ginger, or a green smoothie packed with superfoods. However, my Coconut Chia Yogurt Pudding with Berries can give your immune system a much-needed boost.
According to a study in the Journal of International Immunopharmacology, the live cultures found in yogurt are great for improving the immune system. You however want to choose the right type of yogurt – they are not all the same quality. The best types of yogurt are the ones that are organic, grass-fed and plain, and without any added sugars. Quality is crucial here. The berries in the recipes also contain vitamin C and antioxidants to help battle the cold and flu, all the while satisfying that sweet tooth, without added sugars.
An excellent option for a light lunch is the Waldorf Salad. The leafy greens, apples, and yogurt in the salad are full of vital nutrients. As you may enjoy those hearty holiday meals, you may also consider kefir to support your digestive and immune system. Again, you want to get the highest quality possible, especially with dairy products. If you are dairy-free, consider coconut or water kefir, or kombucha.
Apples can help prevent the cold and flu due to the nutrients and antioxidants they contain. They are a rich source of vitamin C and fibre. Most of the antioxidants are found in the peel so you may consider buying organic apples or washing your local apples really well with a homemade or store-bought fruit wash spray.
Have you considered the Healthy Apple Cake, Baked Oatmeal Square with Apples, or the Apple Cinnamon Baked Oatmeal to delight your taste buds this fall? Another excellent option for that immune fighting power is the Pumpkin Chestnut Soup with Apples. It’s truly delicious, especially if you like chestnuts.
Eggs, primarily the yolks, contain vitamin A and D which help to support the immune system. Have you tried the Spinach Gruyere Quiche or the Caramelized Onions and Kale Frittata yet? They are both a true breakfast or brunch delight. Boost nutrient content and immune boosting properties by serving it with a green salad and a garlic lemon dressing.
Leafy greens, like kale and spinach, contain both vitamin C and K. Do not worry, for you don’t have to sacrifice taste or flavor to enjoy eating leafy greens. Try the Kale and Cauliflower Soup with red pepper flakes, olive oil, and garlic for a touch of immune fighting power. The Raw Avocado Kale Soup is another mealtime option with its leafy greens and oranges to leaf you with a powerful punch of vitamin C. Adding greens in your morning smoothie is also a very effective way to consume extra greens. Just make sure you vary them.
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
According to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition, olive oil contains an anti-inflammatory agent, which can boost the immune system and guard against infections. You want to choose a good quality extra-virgin olive oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is a good source of antioxidants. Do not cook at high temperature with this oil.
Certain spices, like turmeric, ginger, cayenne and black pepper, are great for relieving sinus and chest congestion. Just be careful not to overconsume spicy foods, which can inflame an already sore throat. From deserts like the Spiced Butternut Squash Cake to dinner meals like the Yellow Chicken Curry, nearly all of the my recipes call for a touch of your spiciness. Try any one of my appealing autumn recipes near the tail-end of an illness to relieve any lingering congestion.
Immune-Strengthening Foods as Remedies for the Cold and Flu
Although diet plays a crucial role in your ability to fight any illnesses, let’s also remember the importance of washing hands, staying hydrating, managing stress levels, exercising and getting great sleep.