21 Immune-Boosting Winter ‘Superfoods’ to Fight Flu and COVID-19
Cases of respiratory viral infections, such as influenza, tend to spike during fall and winter. In severe cases, these infections can be fatal, and this is evident with the current COVID-19 outbreak, which has claimed over 1,500 lives in Orange County alone. In addition to COVID-19, the flu and other Influenza-like Illnesses (ILIs) already cause many deaths every year in the US.
There is no known cure for most of these viral infections (antibiotics do not work for viral infections), and treatments mostly help with the symptoms while you wait for your immune system to fight off the virus. Even vaccines ultimately rely on your immune system’s response to help prevent you from getting the viral diseases. In that case, having a healthy and responsive immune system is your best bet against potentially serious viral infections, like the flu and COVID-19.
The good news is that you can support your immune system, and perhaps even “boost” it, by making some small changes to your lifestyle like quitting smoking, exercising regularly, getting adequate sleep, reducing stress, and eating nutrient-rich foods. In this post, we have compiled a list of winter-abundant ‘superfoods’ that will help you keep your immunity strong and “combat-ready” as the colder temperatures cause the spike in viral activities again.
Connection Between Diet and Your Immune System
Scientists have already recognized that people who are malnourished or on a poor diet are more vulnerable to infectious diseases than those who get sufficient nutrients through foods. The WHO has also emphasized the importance of a healthy diet during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying, “diet can affect our body’s ability to prevent, fight and recover from infections.”
Many people who don’t have a proper diet tend to rely on supplements to meet their need for required micronutrients. However, experts claim that the best way to get vitamins and minerals is from a well-rounded diet with plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean sources of protein and healthy fat. Dr. Howard D. Sesso, Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, also stresses the need for a proper diet over supplements. “You should ideally try to meet your vitamin and mineral needs through your diet rather than supplements,” says Dr. Howard. In this post, you will find 21 vitamin and mineral rich foods for “boosting” your immune system.
Related Post: 10 COVID-19 Prevention Tips for This Fall
The following are the 21 immune-boosting foods that you can add to your diet this fall and winter to strengthen your immunity against flu and COVID-19:
Broccoli is rich in vitamins A, C, and E, and antioxidants, which play a great role in boosting your immunity. It also contains magnesium, zinc, iron, and other nutrients.
Ginger contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which help in strengthening immunity.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E as well as manganese. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), vitamin E lowers oxidative damage and improves immunity during aging.
4. Green Tea
This tea contains high levels of antioxidants, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), which boosts the immune system. It is also a healthier tea as it contains fewer calories and less caffeine than coffee.
These fruits are a perfect source of vitamins C and K, potassium, and folate, which work hand in hand to build healthy immune cells, develop strong immune responses, and fight off infections.
6. Miso Soup
Miso soup is a Japanese sauce made from soybeans fermented with “koji.” It is rich in probiotics and “sirtuins” that contribute to weight loss and strong immunity.
7. Citrus Fruits
Fruits such as lemons and oranges have a high content of antioxidants and vitamin C, which form the starter pack for boosting immunity. They also have anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.
8. Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are a great source of vitamin E, which plays a role in strengthening your immunity. They also have nutrients such as vitamin B6, phosphorus, and magnesium.
Papaya contains high amounts of vitamin C. This means a few slices in your salad can go a long way in building your immunity. It also has papain, an anti-inflammatory enzyme that can boost your immunity.
During infections, turmeric stimulates the formation of antibodies that fight off diseases. It also has curcumin, which reduces inflammation and soreness, especially after workouts.
Grapes are rich in a wide range of healthy compounds, including resveratrol, which helps build immunity. They also have antioxidants and polyphenols that play a role in equipping cells to fight against infections.
Spinach is a perfect source of vitamins A, C, and E, beta carotene, as well other antioxidants that help in replenishing cells and building immunity.
Garlic is a tasty flavor-enhancer which contains allicin, a sulfur-rich compound that braces your cells to fight off viral infections such as the flu and COVID-19.
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C and polyphenols, which are good immune boosters. In fact, cranberries have constituents that inhibit flu infections, as published in the National Library of Medicine (NLM).
15. Red Bell Peppers
Red Bell Peppers are rich in vitamins A and C, and beta carotene antioxidants that are great immunity builders. A medium-sized bell pepper has twice the amount of vitamin C found in an orange.
Pumpkin is an immune system booster food containing high amounts of beta carotene antioxidants, which turns into vitamin A in your body. It also has vitamin C, an essential nutrient in enhancing your immunity.
A good source of vitamin C, pomegranates are also known for their antimicrobial and anti-viral properties.
18. Sweet Potatoes
According to the American Society for Microbiology, high levels of vitamin A in the blood can help enhance immune responses. Sweet potatoes have beta carotene, which converts to vitamin A and boosts immunity.
19. Low-Fat Yogurt
Yogurt is a perfect food for the immune system as it contains active cultures of probiotics that stimulate the immune response to fight infections.
20. Button Mushrooms
Mushrooms support the immune system using its antiviral properties and proteins that help repair damaged cells and tissues.
Watermelon is a great source of potassium, vitamins A and C, and other nutrients that work together to enhance the immune responses.
So, this list of 21 superfoods can help you strengthen your immunity system. For more information about the COVID-19 and other respiratory viral infections prevention tips during this fall, please visit our urgent care centers in Irvine, Fountain Valley, and Costa Mesa