If you're battling a stuffed up nose or sore throat as you read this, you're not alone! Although it's not totally clear why, many illnesses - especially the flu and common cold - seem to spike from December to May. The most common suspects for this increase are time indoors (being in a shorter radius of others increases our chances of catching a respiratory virus) and cold, dry conditions in which viruses can often live longer.
Luckily, our bodies have a great built-in defense system that we can do our part to bolster in order to avoid getting sick. Along with getting adequate sleep and washing hands regularly with soap and warm water, the foods we eat are one of the best ways to stay healthy this winter. Here are 6 foods that help support a healthy immune system so you can stave off those winter sniffles.
1. Foods rich in Vitamin C
Most of us have heard of drinking orange juice to avoid colds, but there are lots of options that pack in the Vitamin C our bodies need to repair cells and fight free radicals. Citrus is a good option, but one kiwi contains your entire daily value of the vitamin! You can also try broccoli, sweet potatoes, cauliflower, kale, and bell peppers to give your body an antioxidant boost!
2. Probiotics & fiber-rich foods
Your gut wall contains 70% of the cells that make up your body's immune system, so it only makes sense that gut health is key to a strong immune system. First and foremost, make sure you're eating a wide variety of fruits and veggies as your gut bacteria flourish on fiber-rich foods. Then, add in foods rich in healthy bacteria such as yogurt, krauts, kombucha, or other fermented foods to help balance your digestive tract.
Vitamin C gets all the attention, but fat-soluble Vitamin E plays just as critical of a role in the immune system, especially as we get older. Nuts such as almonds (found in all of our Ona bars and cookies!) are a great way to get plenty of Vitamin E, plus they contain the fat needed for our bodies to properly absorb the vitamin. For example, a half cup of almonds contains almost 100% daily value of Vitamin E.
Honey (found in all Ona bars and cookies!) has been used for centuries in treating a wide variety of diseases due to its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antimicrobial properties. For the best results, use raw, unfiltered honey. Eat a spoonful of it plain or mix into a cup of warm tea or lemon water.
5. Warm soup or bone broth
Chicken soup is a classic sick day food - and for good reason! Eating or drinking warm liquids can help clear congestion, soothe a sore throat, and help keep you hydrated without upsetting your stomach. Plus, soups are a great way to sneak in lots of extra veggies and nutrients to help bolster your immune system. Up the game by opting for bone broth, which has proline, glycine, gelatin, and many other nutrients that are great for supporting a healthy gut and immune system.
6. Herbal or green tea
There's nothing quite like a warm cup of tea on a cold winter day! A few great options: antioxidant-rich packed green tea, Vitamin C-packed rosehips, antiseptic lemon balm, or anti-inflammatory ginger-turmeric tea.
While no one food can keep you from getting sick or cure your cold, eating whole, nutrient-dense foods is a great way to support your immune system and feel good all winter. Ona snacks are packed with healthy fats, micronutrients, and honey to satisfy your sweet tooth which fueling your immune system.