December is upon us. The Christmas decorations are up, the cards are ready to be mailed, and I am joyful for what this month will bring. Look who else is excited.
There is always a downfall to this time of year, though. With the cold temperatures and people trapped indoors, germs are spread around like an Arizona wildfire and sickness seems to be inevitable.
Tim’s been dealing with chest congestion for the last ten days, Meghan has a little cough, and I battled some nose congestion a few weeks ago. To top it off, a child at Meghan’s school threw up in class this week, meaning there could be a bug being spread among the littles all working with the same materials and using questionable hand washing skills.
So what do we do?
I truly believe in Hippocrates’s philosophy that we should let food be our medicine. If nothing else, it should be our first line of defense. So I’ve been busy the last few weeks researching which foods will help keep my family the strongest this winter.
Don’t accept getting sick as your wintertime fate. Fight back. There are foods loaded with nutrients meant to strengthen our immune system. With a strong immune system, our bodies can fight off those sick germs we will come into contact with.
We can use the natural immune-building properties God so expertly built into our foods to help keep us well. You just have to know what they are and make sure to eat an abundance of the foods with these special nutrients that help make our immune system stronger.
Here’s a look at the top immunity-boosting nutrients and foods loaded with them to help get you through this winter having everyone wondering how you stay so healthy:
Top Immune-Boosting Foods List
ZINC: Increases the production of white blood cells. White blood cells fight infection and help us fight more aggressively. Top Zinc Foods: beef, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), sesame seeds, toasted wheat germ, dark chocolate & cocoa powder, lamb, and peanuts
VITAMIN E: Enhances the production of B-cells. These are the immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Top Vitamin E Foods: raw sunflower seeds, dry roasted almonds, olives, papaya, spinach, swiss chard, mustard greens, turnip greens, collard greens, blueberries
VITAMIN C: Increases the production of those infection-fighting white cells AND increases levels of an antibody (interferon) that coats cell’s surfaces and prevents the entry of viruses. Top Vitamin C Foods: papaya, red bell peppers, broccoli, brussels sprouts, strawberries, oranges, cantaloupe, kiwifruit, cauliflower, kale
CAROTENOIDS: Increase the number of infection-fighting cells, natural killer cells, and helper T cells, all which strengthen the immune system’s fighting power. They also convert to immune-boosting Vitamin A in our body. Top Foods with Carotenoids: carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, winter squash, cabbage, spinach, kale, collard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, tomatoes
SELENIUM: This is a mineral that increases natural killer cells, which kill virus-infected cells. Top Foods with Selenium: sunflower seeds, egg yolks, nuts, fish, liver, oat/rice/wheat bran
OMEGA 3 FATTY ACIDS: These increase the activity of the white blood cells (phagocytes) that eat up bacteria. Top Omega-3 Foods: flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, sardines, salmon, soybeans, halibut, scallops, tuna
PROBIOTICS: Having a healthy amount of beneficial bacteria present in our bodies stimulates the production of infection-fighting white blood cells. Top Probiotic Foods: yogurt (with live, active cultures), kefir, sauerkraut, dark chocolate, microalgae (such as spirulina), miso, pickles, tempeh, kimchi (spicy and sour fermented cabbage), kombucha tea
BETA-GLUCAN: A type of fiber with antimicrobal and antioxidant capabilities, which boosts immunity. Top Foods with Beta-glucan: oats, barely, shiitake mushrooms
I think the best thing we can do is to eat an abundance of these foods every single day. I’ve been studying this list and planning my meals and snacks around foods that will help boost my family’s immune system.
One of Meghan’s new favorite snacks is almonds. I am really working on helping her understand the importance of eating foods to help keep her well. Sometimes it works, and sometimes she just wants a cookie. We’ll get there. I’m keeping focused on getting foods into her body everyday that will help build up her immune system.
Keep this list handy when you go to the grocery store and good luck keeping your family healthy during the cold and flu season!
Question: What are your favorite ways to naturally strengthen your immune system?