Flu season is around the corner, and you can sleep and sanitize religiously, but the best way to fight off germs and sickness is through proper nutrition. Medicine will temporarily alleviate your symptoms but can’t equip the body to kill off the illness inside of you and doesn’t have the healing power that food does. Stock your kitchen up with the following infection-fighting superfoods and keep your family’s immune system strong all through the winter.
Vitamin C tends to get all the spotlight when it comes to fighting off the flu and other illnesses, but Vitamin E plays just as a crucial role in protecting your immune system. Almonds are packed with this fat-soluble vitamin and provide a good source of healthy fats to help Vitamin E be best absorbed into your body. They are also excellent vegetarian sources of zinc and selenium. Almonds can be great additions to a variety of meals and taste delicious covered in antioxidant-packed dark chocolate for twice the flu-fighting power.
Kombucha isn’t a food but rather a fermented tea that has been used by the Chinese for over 2000 years to fight infection and disease. Its popularity has skyrocketed in the past few years and for good reason. Kombucha tea is loaded with probiotics, B-vitamins and antioxidants that detoxify the body, energize and boost immunity. It is a great probiotic option when compared to yogurt because it doesn’t enhance mucus production like dairy products do, so it’s safe to drink when both trying to prevent or fight an illness.
The American Institute for Cancer Research has reported that oats may have even more antioxidant power than fruits and vegetables. Oats’ combination of antioxidants, soluble fiber, and energizing carbohydrates all provide the body with the defense, strength and digestion it needs to stay healthy. They also protect your heart against cardiovascular disease. Try steel cut oats with cinnamon for extra anti-inflammatory power.
4. Oily Fish and Shellfish
Fish oil and other supplements can be beneficial when taken alone, but obtaining the nutrients directly from the source itself proves to be much easier and helpful for your body to absorb their nutrients. The omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish such as salmon and tuna, protect the body from inflammation, white blood cell damage, and help to alleviate stress. Shellfish provide the most zinc of any other food, which is one of the key elements in fighting colds.
5. Dark Leafy Greens
Dark leafy greens are one of the most nutritionally-dense foods on the planet, packed with iron, zinc, copper, and other nutrients that help keep the body’s defenses at their best. The antioxidants in spinach function to develop white blood cells and prevent oxidative stress on the body. If you’re not like Popeye and don’t enjoy eating spinach raw, try putting a handful into a homemade smoothie for a sneaky serving of this powerful food.
Your body will reward you when you make an effort to fill it with nutrient-dense food by not only keeping you from being sick but also giving your long-lasting energy throughout your day and keeping stress and anxiety at bay. A nutritious diet reflects from the inside out and will keep you strong through flu season and beyond.
This guest post is welcomed by Lauren Lane, a junior at the University of Alabama majoring in journalism. She is pursuing a career in food and health writing, and is passionate about plant-based living. Lauren is a Florida native and loves fresh waves and food. She is a staff reporter for the university’s school newspaper, The Crimson White and enjoys writing about campus and local culture. I hope to feature more of her talent in the near future!