Now that cold and flu season is in full swing, most of us are sniffling, sneezing, and coughing already. It’s estimated that Americans collectively suffer one billion colds annually, and some children get as many as 12 colds each year. After 10 days or so (and maybe a trip to your doctor’s office for some antibiotics), you'll be feeling better, but the odds are good that someone else in your house will also get sick — and then you could get sick again. But, before you cough up another co-pay and fill another prescription, consider this; staying hydrated and eating a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains (and therefore high in certain key vitamins, minerals, and nutrients) can help you stay healthy during cold and flu season.Harvard Medical School explains the different factors that affect immune function best by saying that "the immune system is precisely that — a system, not a single entity. In order to function well, it requires balance and harmony.” Healthy eating is one strategy for bolstering immunity, so adopting a healthy diet that is rich in a variety of key nutrients can be a good start to improving the way this system functions.
One of the easiest ways to get a variety of nutrients in your diet is to eat a variety of wholesome foods. Eating fruits and vegetables in a variety of colors and eating many different types of whole grains can help ensure you’re getting enough vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Plus, flavoring foods with herbs and spices can help ward off germs; many have anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties.
If you’re looking for a few delicious fall foods to help bolster your immune system, we’ve got a few ideas for you.
Get rid of germs before they can make you sick; laboratory test results show that garlic has anti-bacterial, anti-viral, and anti-fungal properties, giving it some serious infection-fighting potential.
Oats are a good source of beta-glucans (naturally occurring sugars) that have been shown to promote a strong and healthy immune system. If you don’t like oats, try barley instead; it’s also a good source.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal’s Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.