I know, I’ve been starting to post a lot about fall already… but this upcoming season has some seriously amazing stuff to offer. Today, I want to highlight some foods that can help to keep away the bad that tends to come with that amazing cool weather. The flu.
Whether you have just the sniffles, a bit of a cold, or the full-on flu, believe it or not, there are foods that can keep your body and immune system strong and fighting. Think about it: our body gets all of its energy through the foods that we eat. Without food, we simply wouldn’t work. So, it only makes sense that food can be some of the best medicine! (Chicken noodle soup, anyone? Aw man… now I’m thinking about my grandma’s chicken and matzo ball soup she used to make when I got sick. Made you feel better, guaranteed.)
Here are the foods to stock-up on to keep you strong and ready for flu season:
- Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids found in oily fish, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna, help reduce inflammation. This is important because chronic inflammation makes it very difficult for your immune system to function properly. Walnuts are a great source, too!
- Oysters: Being that oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, an essential mineral that has been shown to help fight colds, these are great to eat when wanting to shorten your sniffles. Taking zinc supplements can cause nausea and headaches, so eating your zinc is the best way to get its cold-fighting power.
- Anise seeds: These licorice-y tasting little seeds have antibacterial properties that have been known to help clear congestion in the upper respiratory tract and ease coughing. Luckily, their distinct flavor goes perfectly with fall foods, like roasted vegetables, and in baked goods, too! The best way to unlock their full potential, however, is in tea (which hits the spot when you’re not feeling your best, right?) Just steep crushed seeds in hot water, add in any honey or cinnamon that you may want, and sip away! Also, fennel seeds (very similar in taste) work the same way here. Try the fennel bulb, too! It’s in season!
- Citrus: This one is kind of a no-brainer. Not only are these sweet, tangy, and oh-so-juicy fruits in season right now, but they provide you with tons of vitamin C, and help to keep you hydrated. Load up on vitamin C because your body needs it so stay healthy, plus you can’t over-do it. Excess vitamin C just washes right out of your system! (Other foods high in vitamin C are red bell peppers, cherries, Brussels sprouts, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower)
- Yogurt: I talked all about the benefits of yogurt that contains live active cultures in a previous post. The probiotics help to kill the bad bacteria in our digestive tract, keeping our immune system (and digestive system) working as they should.
- Milk: The vitamin D found in milk not only helps us build strong bones (Got milk?), and defend against heart disease, but it helps our… yup, you guessed it, immune system, too! Be sure to get Vitamin D fortified milk (and orange juice, too!)
- Mushrooms: Whether you like crimini, button, portabella, or shiitake, all mushrooms contain antioxidants, potassium, and B vitamins, which all help your immune system.
- Chicken and turkey: So that’s why your mom always gives you chicken soup when you’re sick! Lean proteins are the building blocks for muscles, healthy cells, and antibodies, which you need to fight off infections.
- Carrots: Well, pretty much any orange fruit/vegetable, like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash, contain loads of beta-carotene, which is converted by our bodies into vitamin A. This is an important vitamin because it helps to keep the mucous membranes (gross, I know) of our nose and throat running properly. Since this is our bodies first defense in keeping viruses out, I would say now is a good time for some sweet potatoes!
- Oats: Containing an immune-boosting fiber called beta-glucan, oats are the perfect ingredient to add to your fall recipes. Beta-glucan has been shown to reduce upper-respiratory infections, so how about some hot oats for breakfast? Or Oatmeal cookies!
Try my favorite smoothie, which has oats, spinach, antioxidant-rich berries, and milk! Or try my recipe for a baked potato, loaded with omega-3s from canned tuna, and vitamin C and D from kale. And here’s a great recipe for a hearty chicken soup with butternut squash and spinach. Or how about some kale and sweet potato chicken patties? Honestly, working these immune-boosting foods into your diet this season won’t be hard at all… heck, you probably already eat most of the foods listed regularly, anyways! The point is, food is amazing, so take advantage. Plus, you’ll save a ton of money on doctor visits and medications! An apple a day…
Question: What food do you turn to when you don’t feel your best? Comment below!