Given that we’re nearly 12 months into the coronavirus pandemic, it sure would be nice if cold and flu season would give us a break. But assuming Mother Nature doesn’t grant us that miracle, there are still ways to boost your immunity. Along with getting at least seven to eight hours of sleep each night, getting a daily dose of sunshine and fresh air, and drinking lots of water, here are five superfoods to nosh on for good health.
5 Immune-Boosting Foods for Cold & Flu Season
Your mother may have told you to drink cranberry juice to prevent a urinary tract infection (UTI) or bladder infection. But these tart fruits aren’t only good for urinary health. They also contain the molecule non-dialyzable material (NDM). This coats certain surfaces in the body to inhibit infection-causing agents, or harmful bacteria, from taking hold. Cranberries are also rich in vitamin C and polyphenols, which may support immune function as well.
Green tea is fairly famous for its antioxidant properties. In addition to supporting healthy metabolism, green tea may also boost immune function. According to Science Daily, researchers from Oregon State University found the polyphenol called EGCG increases the number of “regulatory T cells” that play a key part in immune function and autoimmune disease suppression. Green tea also contains catechin, which is thought to increase immunity as well. Many people enjoy green tea straight or with lemon and honey, but you can also incorporate it into smoothies or smoothie bowls.
These sour citrus fruits are packed with antioxidants and vitamin C, and bioflavonoids. Vitamin C is, hands-down, the most well-known immune-boosting nutrient, and most citrus fruits and peppers are loaded with it. Besides adding lemon juice to your tea, you can also infuse your water with lemon slices or add a bit of lemon to your salad dressings or fish dishes.
Garlic has been a key part of many Eastern European cuisines for centuries, primarily because it’s fantastic seasoning, but also because people once thought it could ward off vampires. The notion of vampires originates from a genuine illness, Porphyria, which became prevalent a few centuries ago, particularly among nobility and royalty in certain Eastern European nations. Many “vampiric” traits are symptoms, including the aversion to garlic. This is because the plant’s sulfur content could lead to a porphyria attack, causing acute pain.
Besides warding off vampires, or, more accurately, a porphyria flare-up, garlic can also support a healthy immune system. This is due to a compound, allicin, which naturally forms when garlic is crushed or chewed. One study published in 2014 in Molecules found consuming aged garlic daily may reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms.
Did you receive an orange in your Christmas stocking as a child? According to Smithsonian Magazine, the origin of this tradition dates way back to the story of the OG Saint Nick. But regardless of whether you’re eating them as a special holiday treat or an everyday snack, these citrus fruits are another cold and flu season staple. Like lemons, they contain high amounts of vitamin C. One eight-ounce glass has more than 100% of the recommended daily value.
Oranges also contain many carotenoids, including alpha-carotene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and beta carotene, improving vitamin A production, another important nutrient for immune function. Plus, like garlic and cranberries, they are also seasonal, as odd as that may seem to those of us in the north. In their native regions, such as Florida, they’re at their peak in late fall.
Along with the above, taking a daily dose of CBD may help you stay well too. CBD does so by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS). One of the body’s most crucial biological systems, the ECS, is responsible for regulating a range of processes, including immune function.
Via the ECS, CBD can help maintain balance and wellness, support standard sleep patterns, and help you keep stress under control. In case you hadn’t heard, both sleep deprivation and excessive stress can deal a significant blow to your health.
There are many ways to incorporate CBD into your daily wellness routine. Take a capsule with breakfast, for example, or snack on some gummies for a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. You can also add some tincture to your smoothies, tea, or coffee, or even use tincture or oil in your favorite fall recipes.