Winter brings its share cold and flu and one of the best ways to stay well is to eat foods that will boost your immune system along with getting enough sleep. Being at a healthy weight also helps boost the body’s defense system because it will help body be less likely to have inflammation but now is not the time to go on a strict weight reduction plan but aim for a healthy, gradual weight reduction eating a little less and moving more.Managing stress with healthy coping skills help keep us well by lowering stress levels. Stress breaks down the immune system. That with a little physical activity and you will have a recipe for staying healthy this season! Choosing meals and snacks that have a lot of plant based foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains which are low in saturated fat is a great way to build a strong immune system.

Immune Building Nutrients

Nutrients to build a healthy immune system include vitamins C, A and E, zinc and selenium are all healthy choices. Vitamin C foods include kale, peppers, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Vitamin E foods include nuts, oils, wheat and greens and vitamin A choices are sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach and collards. Nuts, beans, milk and beef are rich in zinc and meat, dairy, grains and eggs contain selenium. The more colorful your diet, the healthier that it is because you are getting a lot of phytonutrients that help keep you healthier. You are what you eat and this is one of the best things to remember when it comes to staying healthy this new year.

Different colors of fruits and vegetables can boost our immune system.

Different colors of fruits and vegetables can boost our immune system.


What to Watch Out For

It is a good idea to be cautious of many of the products that claim to boost or support immune systems since many may not have been scientifically researched. Read labels carefully and do your research. Probiotics can do a lot to help build a healthy immune system and the best kinds are refrigerated varieties.

If you do find that you do come down with a cold, in addition to rest and eating healthy, you also need to drink lots of fluids. With the flu, it may be necessary to seek medical attention and many groups of people may even benefit from a flu shot to prevent getting it.

Some hot tea will help you feel better when you have come down with a cold!

Hot Tea, Honey and Lemon Recipe

Years ago when I was expecting my son, I got a terrible cold. The nurses at the health clinic where I worked had a tasty remedy. You may already use it but if you don’t, it will help you feel better along with some rest.

Makes 1 cup of tea

1 tea bag (use the tea of your choice)

1 teaspoon of honey

1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

Heat water for tea and let the tea bag steep. Add honey and lemon!

I hope some of these tips will help you feel better this winter season! As a registered dietitian nutritionist in Asheville, I believe that food can be a very powerful way to keep you healthy in both the short and long run. You can read more about my services here!

The picture from the colorful soup comes from my book Farm Fresh Nutrition: Eating Green and Clean and Supporting Your Local Economy!

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