With the cold winter months just about here in many places across the country, we find ourselves spending more and more of our time indoors already.
This is partly why it’s the time of year people are more susceptible to colds and the flu.
One reason is that viruses tend to live longer in cold air; also, being indoors leaves us closer in proximity to others, where germs can more easily spread from person to person.
Since part of our well-being depends on how we treat ourselves, now is the time to fuel our bodies with immune-boosting vitamins and minerals found in a whole food diet.
Prevention is definitely key.
Here are five top immune-boosting foods you can add into your diet to help you feel your best all fall and winter long.
1.) Eat colorful fruits and vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals. Reach for red and pink grapefruits, oranges, kiwis, and berries. Choose cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts.
These fruits and veggies are not only loaded with essential vitamins and phytonutrients, but they’re also rich in antioxidants, which give your immune system a kick and help build up your digestive track.
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2.) Add in pistachios as a heart-healthy, protein-rich snack. Pistachios are also rich in antioxidants, and the heart-healthy fats help your body absorb vitamin E.
The immune system needs Vitamin E to fight off invading bacteria. Pistachios are also rich in vitamin B6, which also helps prevent infection and creates healthy red blood cells your body needs.
3.) Look for omega-3 fatty acids and selenium, found in shellfish, salmon, mackerel and herring. These foods help white blood cells produce a protein that helps clear flu viruses out of the body.
Omega-3 fatty acids reduce inflammation in the body by clearing the lungs’ pathways.
This can help protect you from colds and respiratory infections.
4.) Make yogurt your go-to breakfast or snack. Yogurt contains probiotics, “healthy bacteria” your body needs to keep your immune system strong and keep your digestive free of disease-causing germs. Yogurt is also filled with protein that keeps your body energized and strong.
5.) Spice up your food with turmeric, ginger and cinnamon. These spices are especially known to contain antioxidants that help to protect your cells and keep inflammation in the body down.
I add turmeric to soups, eggs, rice and poultry.
Fresh-grated ginger brings warmth to any beverage.
And cinnamon can be sprinkled on oatmeal, cereal and yogurt, and easily added to anything you bake.
Sara Siskind, a certified nutritional health counselor, is founder of Hands On Healthy — cooking classes for adults, families and teens based in New York. She has dedicated her career to educating clients on how food and lifestyle choices affect health. This article appeared earlier in LifeZette and has been updated.