By Sheila Goldberg, Corporate Wellness Specialist, Independent Health

Whether it’s flu season or a cold going around the office, there are ways to keep your immune system strong by eating certain foods. You don’t need to buy pricey supplements to keep yourself healthy. Vitamins and minerals in whole foods are better absorbed when you eat them. You are also less likely to get a toxic mega dose of any vitamin from a whole food.

If you’re looking for ways to avoid illness, plan your meals to include these eight powerful immune system boosters:

  1. Yogurt – Contains probiotics which is healthy bacteria residing in our digestive tract. Adequate intake of probiotic foods can keep the immune system strong by making sure there is no room for harmful bacteria. In addition to yogurt, other probiotic-rich foods include kimchi and kombucha.
  2. Garlic – Has been used as a natural healer since ancient times. It’s full of sulfuric compounds which act as antiseptics. These compounds have antifungal and antiviral functions.
  3. Fatty fish – Fish with high fat content have two nutrients that help with immunity: omega-3 fatty acids and selenium. The omega-3’s help reduce inflammation in the body which prevents various diseases. Selenium boots the immune system. Consuming two servings of fatty fish like salmon per week can help provide numerous health benefits.
  4. Oatmeal – Contains a kind of fiber called beta-glucans, which increases the strength of our immune system by boosting white blood cells (defender cells). You also get all the benefits of fiber, which include lowering LDL (bad) cholesterol and improved digestion.
  5. Ginger – Contains compounds called gingerols, which are thought to have anti-inflammatory properties. If you are already sick, consuming ginger may also help with nausea and vomiting.
  6. Citrus fruits – Contain vitamin C which helps build up your immune system. Vitamin C is thought to increase the production of white blood cells, which are key to fighting infections. Popular citrus fruits include grapefruit, oranges, tangerines, lemons and limes.
  7. Spinach – In addition to being rich in vitamin C, spinach is packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
  8. Pumpkin seeds – They can be a good source of zinc, which is an immune-boosting mineral and a popular cold fighting supplement. However, too much zinc can actually suppress your immune system, so get it from whole foods rather than supplements to make sure you consume the right amount. 

Visit your local grocery store and stock up on these items to keep your immune system strong and healthy.

For healthy menu ideas and meal planning, check out Zipongo.

Article Reference: Zipongo