If you Google “foods to boost my immune system,” you’re sure to find an endless number of listicles chock-full of foods that may or may not be in season or available at your friendly neighborhood grocery store. But don’t get your tinsel in a tangle because for any cold and flu season, all you really need is just five key foods and one recipe to heal them all.
High in vitamin C, the real MVP when it comes to kicking colds, a squeeze of citrus (think oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tangerines or clementines) every day is what you need to keep your immune system up and running. The reason is vitamin C is said to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting off infections. Also, since our body doesn’t produce nor store vitamin C, finding a way to take it in daily is crucial during cold season.
While there are many other immune-boosting foods out there, we included spinach because it’s not only rich in vitamin C but it’s also loaded with beta carotene, which increases the infection-fighting ability of our immune system.
Chicken soup ain’t only good for the soul, but it’s good for boosting gut health. After all, about 70% of your immune system is housed in your gut. Chicken (or poultry, generally) has a high amount of vitamin B6, which is an important player in the many chemical reactions that happen in the body – including the formation of new, healthy red blood cells. Chicken stock (or broth) is made by boiling chicken bones, which contains gelatin, chondroitin and other nutrients that are so very good for gut healing and immunity-boosting.
We’ve read before that this smelly superfood does wonders for healing the body, so it’s no surprise it made this list. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties are reported to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin, and it’s even been reported that garlic may slow down the hardening of arteries and lower your blood pressure. So when you need your blood-a-flowin’, garlic’ll get you goin’.
Make no mistake: mushrooms are a powerhouse in their own right. These brown or white buttons are a great source of vitamin D and are packed with a variety of immune-boosting antioxidants – including our good friend vitamin C.
So if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop that’ll keep your immune system operating at maximum efficiency year-round, grab a pot and give this lemony, garlicky, chicken-and-veggie-rich soup a go:
Serving size: 2ish cups
About the Author
Sadie Flynn is a CrossFit Level 2 Trainer and former collegiate athlete with a penchant for power lifts. As a new mom, Sadie is deeply passionate about pregnant and postpartum fitness and wellness, and works hard to help women take care of their bodies before, during and after birth. When she’s not coaching at CrossFit Renew or forcing her 90s alternative music beliefs upon you, you can find her somewhere outside with a beer, her husband, two dogs and their rambunctious toddler.