As we hit cold and flu season, it’s important to nourish your body with a variety of foods and spices to keep yourself healthy and your immune system strong. It’s equally important to remember to take time for yourself to relax, spend time with friends and family, and exercise in order to relieve stress.
Cooking yourself nutritious foods can provide your body with an array of beneficial nutrients, while relieving stress by taking time for yourself in the kitchen. In addition, taking care of yourself and others promotes overall well being.
Here are some of the best nutrient-rich foods you can incorporate into your meals this season to help strengthen your immune system.
Sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene (a precursor to vitamin A), vitamin C, and vitamin E. Sweet potatoes are a significant source of anti-oxidants that benefit the immune system, prevent disease and cancer, aid in recovery from sickness or surgery, and improve our skin, hair, and eyes. In addition, vitamin A and vitamin C are anti-inflammatory, making sweet potatoes beneficial for those suffering from arthritis or asthma. They also contain a significant amount of fiber, contributing to the health of our digestive tracts, a first line defense mechanism for our immune system.
Cooked cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin C, folate, vitamins B5 and B6, cooked cauliflower contributes to healthy immune function.
Coconut provides a bit of healthy fats that can aid in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins A, D and E.
As a warming spice, ginger can promote healthy sweating during a cold or flu, promoting recovery and fighting off infections. While ginger is commonly used to calm the digestive system, it also possesses antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can be beneficial for those suffering from arthritis or recovering from heavy exercise.
The essential oils found in cinnamon are considered to be anti-microbial, helping stop the growth of bacteria. In addition, by slowing the rate at which food empties from the stomach, cinnamon can aid in blood sugar control, particularly when combined with a high glycemic food. Traditional Chinese Medicine mixes cinnamon in tea with fresh ginger to provide cold and flu relief.
Getting its bright yellow color from the flavonoid curcumin, turmeric provides anti-inflammatory benefits at the level of ibuprofen and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). It has been used in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), relief for rheumatoid arthritis, helping those with cystic fibrosis, and cancer prevention, just to name a few.
Here's a fantastic, warming vegetable soup recipe to help keep your immune system strong during cold and flu season!