We’re well into the winter and all the coats and jackets are out! The nip in the air feels good and accompanied by the festive season, there is a celebratory buzz all around!
However, along with all the fun, winter also means an onslaught of the sniffles. There are many reasons for winters making us sicker like people spending more time indoors, or more socializing leading to the spread of bugs. But the most important reason is that of low immunity – the body’s reaction to a lowering in temperatures can reduce its resistance to disease. Besides, Vitamin D is vital for improving immunity, and this is in short supply during winters due to shorter days and decreased sunlight. A lowered immunity results in a whole host of infections, the most common of which are fever, common cold, flu, sore throat and general congestion. There are also several kinds of allergies that do the rounds in winter, along with respiratory and stomach infections.
Get an upper hand on winter illnesses by boosting your immunity with the help of these superfoods.
The post has been written by Fabida Abdulla, who now joins my blog as a regular contributor. She blogs at Shocks and Shoes and in her free time she loves to share her thoughts on parenting and things that make up her life. She also loves to bake some yummy stuff and you will find these recipes on her blog.
10 Foods to Boost your Immunity this Winter
Nutrients: Choline, Selenium, Biotin, Vitamins B2, B12, A, D, Iodine
Egg yolks are among the few edible sources of Vitamin D, a nutrient key to developing immunity. Besides being a source of good quality protein, eggs also contain a good amount of Omega 3 fatty acids and other minerals that may be hard to find in adequate quantities in other foods.
Eggs are also high in cholesterol, so it’s best not to overeat, especially for people vulnerable to heart problems.
Nutrients: Manganese, Vitamins B6, C, Copper, Selenium
Of course, you’ve probably heard about garlic’s various health benefits, but did you know that it also helps to enhance heart health? The cold weather causes an increase in blood pressure that can cause heart problems, especially in those with a history of the same. Garlic helps control homocysteine and platelet aggression – both markers of coronary disease.
Add it crushed, while cooking any dish of your choice, and sprinkle some powder on salads.
3. Green Tea
Nutrients: Vitamins A, D, K, E, C, B, B5, H, Manganese, Zinc, Selenium, Chromium
Green tea is a powerhouse of polyphenols that boost immunity by reducing the formation of free radicals that also contribute to ageing. Many tea drinking cultures have several varieties of herbal teas that are said to improve health and keep diseases at bay. Green tea is also said to kill bacteria thereby lowering your risk of infection, something which is extremely common during the winter season.
It is recommended to have at least two cups of green tea a day and going for higher quality brands is often worth the extra money.
Nutrients: Biotin, Vitamins E, B2, Manganese, Copper, Phosphorous, Magnesium
Almonds are superb sources of Vitamin E, with only a ¼ cup giving 50% of the recommended daily allowance. Besides improving the immune system, almonds are also known for boosting brain power, lowering stress levels and aiding weight loss by increasing satiety.
Soaked almonds are easier on the body’s digestion; have them as a snack, or use in rice dishes, salads or cereal. You could also soak them overnight, peel the skin and consume in the morning.
Nutrients: Selenium, Vitamins B2, B3, B6, D, Copper, Pantothenic Acid, Zinc
Mushrooms are generally considered tricky, but that is mostly due to the wide variety of edible mushrooms available these days. For immunity benefits, go with button, shiitake or maitake mushrooms which are rich in selenium, which has been directly linked to a decrease in the body’s susceptibility to flu and the common cold.
Mushrooms are very low in calories and filling. They can be lightly stir fried and added to meat or vegetable dishes and omelettes.
Nutrients: Vitamins A, K, C, B6, Biotin, Molybdenum, Potassium, Manganese
This crunchy vegetable has long been noticed for its high Vitamin A content and the joke about why rabbits don’t wear glasses! But carrots are also great to boost immunity during winters, since the vitamins C and K help to the body to metabolize Vitamin D effectively. Besides, carrots are rich in anti oxidants and enhance heart health.
Carrots can be eaten raw, and the best way of cooking them is to steam lightly, without losing the crunch.
Nutrients: Vitamins C, B1, Folate, Pantothenic Acid, Copper, Potassium, Calcium
An orange is the most popular choice for anyone wanting to refill their depleted Vitamin C stores. The sweet, juicy fruit is rich in this water soluble vitamin which is essential during winters. Besides boosting immunity, oranges also help in reducing inflammation in all parts of the body, a common problem in winters especially among the elderly.
It is recommended to have the fruit whole rather than the juice, to get the added benefits of fiber.
Nutrients: Vitamins K, C, B6, E, B2, A, Chromium, Folate, Pantothenic Acid
Broccoli is an item that features on nearly every super food list and with good reason! Broccoli has several key phytonutrients that help the body detox. Broccoli is the perfect accompaniment for a diet that’s looking to increase vitamin D stores, since Vitamins K and A help in the metabolism of Vitamin D.
Broccoli’s nutritional benefits are best maintained when steamed lightly, for about 5 minutes, or stir fried quickly at high heat.
9. Red Bell Peppers
Nutrients: Vitamin C, Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, Folate, Molybdenum, Vitamin E
The above list is just a small part of the array of nutrients that are contained in bell peppers. With less than one gram of fat in a cup of sliced peppers, this vegetable is one of the healthiest that you can eat. Red bell peppers are ‘fruitier’ than their green counterparts and have twice the amount of Vitamin C found in a regular orange.
Red bell peppers can be roasted and stuffed with rice or mince. They can also be sliced and added to salads and stir fries.
10. Pumpkin Seeds
Nutrients: Manganese, Phosphorous, Magnesium, Copper, Zinc
Pumpkin seeds are among the best sources of zinc, and have been recommended by the WHO too. Low zinc is found to be directly related to lowered T Cells, which are necessary for the body’s immune system to fight all kinds of bacteria and viruses. This condition is exacerbated with age, so it is important for seniors to have an adequate source of zinc, like pumpkin seeds.
Pumpkin seeds can be shelled and added to salads for an extra crunch.
You can also boost your immunity with supplements or fortified food products, but why go there when you can do it naturally? All the foods mentioned here have several health benefits beyond boosting immunity, thus making them a must have on your grocery list! Include a few of these in your diet every week and enjoy a healthy and enthusiastic festive season!
*All of my reviews are based on my own personal experiences with the brand/products. If it is a sponsored post, it is indicated. Most of the brands and products reviewed are what I have tried and tested and truly recommend! All Photographs are (C) Pratibha unless stated otherwise.*