With the winter in full swing, flu season is now upon us. If you’re anything like us, then you’ve been washing your hands uncontrollably, using hand sanitizer every hour, and trying to refrain from wearing a mask in public. In an effort to fight the flu, we’ve compiled a list of foods that can help you stay healthy.
Yogurt has probiotics, or “good” bacteria, that promote a healthy digestive and immune system. Probiotics, coupled with a good supply of protein and vitamin D, will give your body nutrients needed to help combat colds and flu this winter season.
Try This: Plain non-fat yogurt topped with fresh oranges, cinnamon, and a small drizzle of honey. Yogurt is also the perfect starting point in dips, sauces, salad dressings, and desserts.
Oats and Barley
Oats and barley contain beta glucans, a soluble fiber noted to help boost our immune defenses as well as promote healthy digestion.
Try This: Oatmeal topped with fresh fruit, like blueberries or raspberries, and nuts, like walnuts or almonds. The berries contain immune fighting antioxidants while the nuts supply heart healthy fats.
Ginger certainly has its place during the flu season due to an active compound called gingerol, which is known for its antimicrobial properties. Ginger is also known for its ability help ease cold symptoms by relieving congestion and stimulating circulation in the body.
Try This: Ground ginger sprinkled on roasted carrots, sweet potatoes, or pumpkin.
Almonds are a rich source of Vitamin E, which works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals and help improve immune function.
Try This: One hundred calorie packs of almonds with a piece of fresh fruit for a healthy afternoon snack and/or ½-1 cup of unsweetened almond milk with the Medifast Crunch Cereal for breakfast.
Peppers are available in a range of colors. A medium sized red bell pepper provides about 35 calories and delivers a day’s worth of vitamins A and C, making it a great choice for a healthy immune system.
Try This: Stuff bell peppers with lean ground beef or turkey, low-fat cheese, and seasonings. Slice raw peppers and serve with a low-fat dip, or sauté and add them to tacos or stir fries.
Green tea is made from unfermented leaves and reportedly contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants amongst other teas. While more research is needed, green tea may help prevent symptoms of a cold and the flu.
Try This: Have a cup of unsweetened hot or cold green tea to keep you warm during the winter months, or try the Medifast Essential1: CalorieBurn Green Tea Lemon Flavor Infuser for a refreshing way to stay hydrated.
Beef is a good source of zinc, a nutrient that helps the immune system work properly and that helps heal wounds, as well as protein, a nutrient that plays a role in the body’s defense mechanism. Zinc and protein can be found in lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans and nuts.
Try This: Shepherd’s Pie. Use mashed cauliflower in place of potatoes and lean ground beef or chicken over higher fat options to help significantly lower the amount of calories and carbohydrates in your traditional shepherd’s pie recipe.
Sweet potatoes, and other foods containing beta-carotene, deliver vitamin A, an immune boosting antioxidant, to the body. Other foods rich in beta-carotene include carrots, squash, pumpkins, and cantaloupe.
Try This: Stuff sweet potatoes with cooked white beans, kale, garlic, onion, and seasonings, and/or try making homemade sweet potato fries! Slice potatoes into fry-shaped pieces, lightly drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and bake at 425°F for 25-30 minutes or until tender.
Mushrooms are low in calories and contain selenium, copper, and B vitamins, all of which play a role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
Try This: Sauté, grill, roast or steam your mushrooms to enjoy as a side dish. Toss mushrooms into salads, soups, chili, omelets, and lasagna, or use them as a meat alternative in casseroles, stews, sandwiches, and burgers.
Along with incorporating the above foods into your daily meal plan, be sure to maintain your exercise routine, get enough sleep, and manage any stress that may come your way. Incorporating these foods and healthy habits into your lifestyle during the cold and flu season will help boost your immune system, ultimately leading to a happier, healthier you.