5 Ways to Boost Your Immune System for the Holidays
By Judi Arthur, RD
With the holidays approaching, it’s a good time to consider winterizing your body to ward off the cold and flu season. Boosting your immune system can lower your susceptibility to colds and the flu. In addition to getting moderate exercise and adequate rest, increasing your intake of foods that are rich in the following 5 nutrients can help you boost your immune system:
- Vitamin C– this antioxidant can protect against infections and has been linked to shorter, less intense colds. The highest dietary sources of vitamin C are found in red, orange and yellow peppers, broccoli, cabbage, guava, papaya, kiwi, lychees, and oranges.
- Zinc– this mineral can help to fight off infections and enhance the immune system. Foods that have a high zinc include seafood, meat, poultry, nuts, seeds, and legumes.
- Probiotics– good bacteria can protect your immune system by keeping harmful bacteria under control. Probiotics are found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, miso, and kimchee.
- Vitamin D– this vitamin helps to regulate your immune function and protect against infection. Canadians synthesize less vitamin D in the winter due to lower sunlight levels, which can increase our risk of deficiency. Therefore, adequate dietary intake of vitamin D is particularly important. The best food sources of vitamin D include fatty fish like salmon, cod liver oil, milk fortified with vitamin D, and egg yolks.
- Polyphenols– these plant chemicals found in berries, cocoa, green tea, pomegranate, and mushrooms have antimicrobial properties that are linked with boosting immune function and reducing cold and flu symptoms.