9 Immunity Boosting Foods for the Winter

immunity boosting

It all starts with an innocent sniffle then before you know it you are down for the count with fever, the chills, vomiting, and diarrhea. Hello Flu season. According to the NY times, “The country is in the grip of three emerging flu or flulike epidemics: an early start to the annual flu season with an unusually aggressive virus, a surge in a new type of norovirus, and the worst whooping cough outbreak in 60 years.” It’s more important than ever to keep up your defense against these nasty bugs.

And what’s one of the best ways to make sure you don’t catch what everyone else has? Start incorporating these 9 immunity boosting foods into your daily diet to keep you from getting sick.

  • Oats: Start your day off right with oats for their immunity building zinc and a compound called beta-glucan that activates immune cells and fights micro-organisms. Sugary instant oats don’t count. Stick to the steel cut variety (Barley is also good).
  • Mushrooms: These also contain the anti-bacterial, anti-microbial beta-glucan compound.
  • Pumpkin Seeds: very high in zinc, an immune building mineral which increases production of immune cells.
  • Sweet Potatoes: high in Beta Carotene, Vitamin A which is needed for proper function of the lining of the lungs and digestive system.
  • Garlic: contains allicin which blocks enzymes that help viruses spread. It is anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.
  • Ginger: is an antiseptic, it fights against microorganisms that cause infectious disease.  It helps circulation and has anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Kale:  and other dark leafy greens are full of anti-oxidants that scoop up free radicals. They are packed with phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals.
  • Citrus & Berries: Vitamin C rich foods are immune superheroes.
  • Walnuts: High in anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory omega 3′s.

immunity boosting foods

It’s surprising how easy it can be to start including these foods in your diet, to start, try making this delicious immune booster salad (it has 6 of the foods I just listed!).

immunity boosting foodsRoasted Sweet Potato and Kale Salad

2 large sweet potatoes
1 generous bunch curly kale (about 1 pound), stemmed, leaves washed and dried
1 cup of mushrooms
pomegranate seeds, pumpkin seeds, crushed walnuts

Roast the sweet potatoes in the oven at 400 degrees.  Remove from heat and allow to cool the cut into cubes. Massage kale leaves in extra virgin olive oil. Mix in cubed, roasted sweet potato and mushrooms then top with pumpkin seeds, pomegranate seeds and crushed walnuts.

Dress with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

1 garlic clove, minced
1 shallot, minced
1/3 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Himalayan sea salt and pepper to taste

Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl, pour over your salad and enjoy (and stay healthy!).

Photo Credit: Jackie Knechtel, Jackie Gaydos

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