Once the colder months creep in we all know it is cold and flu season. Catching an illness is horrible for anyone, and while having the sniffles or a sore throat is bad, being forced to hang up their running shoes while they recover is even more dreadful for a runner. The cold weather, and being cooped up indoors increase the chances of getting sick, but there are also many steps you can take to help lower this risk. Getting regular exercise, plenty of rest, and eating the right food are all ways to help you body stay in top shape and fight off potential illness. We have pulled together a list of some of the best immune boosting foods to help you stay healthy and keep running this Winter.
Vitamin C is one of the most important nutrients for increasing immune functions, and citrus fruits are full of it. This vitamin increases the growth of white blood cells which can help fight infections, but is not stored or produced by the body so it is important to get some every day. Citrus is a great way to do this since it is delicious and comes in so many varieties. These fruits include: lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines and clementines.
Ginger is an amazing spice that is great both for boosting the immune system and for relief of many symptoms if you do fall ill. Ginger has strong antibacterial and antiviral properties which help protect you body, and has been shown to inhibit the rhinovirus which is the virus responsible for causing the common cold. If you are sick ginger contain compounds called gingerols which are anti-inflammatory and reduce pain, both of which can help to relive many cold symptoms. Ginger has also been used for thousands of years to prevent and reduce nausea. In cold and flue season ginger is a must have.
Yogurt is a great probiotic. This means that it is if full of beneficial bacteria that help the body. Studies have linked these bacteria to improved immune functions, better digestion, and improved sleep, all of which keep you health and work to prevent illness. Make sure that you are consuming yogurts that are low in added sugars as sugar can negatively effect the immune system, and many brands have a high amount of sugar added to them.
Cinnamon is high in anti oxidants and helps relieve inflammation. It is also antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral so rather than just boosting your immune system it helps by joining the fight directly. It is also very easy to add into your diet, and can be sprinkled on many things from cereal and toast, to stir fries, or added to drinks like coffee or a smoothie.
Broccoli is amazingly high in nutrients with exceptional levels of A, C and E, and many antioxidants. It is also very high in potassium which promotes proper brain function and a healthy nervous systems. Studies have also shown that there is a compound in broccoli that not only improves the immune system, but helps slow it’s deterioration as we age.
Like citrus fruits garlic is found on almost any list of cold fighting or immune boosting foods. It has many antibacterial qualities, and has compounds that boost immune systems and fight disease. To get the most benefit out of garlic, after chopping or crushing it let it rest for a few minutes before cooking. Some of its most beneficial compounds are only created after the cell walls are broken, but the heat from cooking stops this process.
Turmeric has become very popular as is said to be a superfood, that has high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The active ingredient in turmeric that is most the most significant reason for these properties is curcumin? It is an anti-viral, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory compound that can help fight everyday colds and flues and is being studies for other benefits such as working as an antidepressant . Also, since inflammation is a part of so many diseases, being anti-inflammatory is an extra bonus.