Food trends and "what-I-eat-in-a-day" vloggers can definitely help you navigate a crowded grocery store, but just because this superfood or that juice cleanse is popular right now, doesn't mean they're actually what's best for your body. The key to staying healthy is to strengthen your immune system so your body is always ready to fight off the bad stuff. While there are a ton of over-the-counter supplements at your disposal to do that, why pop pills when the foods you eat can prevent a cold before it even starts?
Dr. Partha Nandi, gastroenterologist and author of the upcoming book ASK DR. NANDI: 5 Steps to Becoming your Own #HealthHero for Longevity, Well-being, and a Joyful Life, tells Elite Daily,
When you eat, the food that goes into your gut gives your body information and the fuel the body needs to function properly and healthily. With the wrong information, your body and its metabolic processes do not work properly, and that can result in health issues. The proper nutrients can help the body fight off disease with all organs running properly.
The best way to take care of your body is to nourish it in natural ways. That being said, here are 10 foods that can ward off a cold before it even has the opportunity to disrupt your immune system.
Doctors will almost always prescribe rest and plenty of fluids to stay hydrated when you're feeling under the weather.
Normally, I have no problem drinking enough water on a daily basis, but the second I start to feel clammy, the last thing I want to do is eat or drink anything.
Tea is a great way to soothe aches and fight off forming viruses because it's high in antioxidants and L-theanine, an amino acid that naturally boosts the immune system.
And don't sweat it if you can't have caffeine -- decaffeinated brews will still offer these benefits.
2. Sweet Potato
You know the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away?” Well, so will a sweet potato.
The hardest part of implementing this colorful starch into your diet is the lengthy preparation period, but even that's not an excuse.
To make sure you always have some available for meals, take an hour or two out of your Sunday to roast a couple spuds for side dishes, or steam before freezing for smoothies.
I used to think mushrooms were the most boring vegetables ever, until I learned they are actually one of the best protectors of your immune system.
Research shows that shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms increase the productivity of white blood cells, which fight off infections.
4. Citrus Fruit
Personally, any time I feel a cold coming on, I'm immediately buying a bundle of oranges -- but tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, and limes will also do the trick.
Vitamin C is a prime immunity booster, as it encourages white blood cell production.
You heard mom and dad, finish your broccoli! But seriously, you really should.
These miniature trees are packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber to keep your digestive system on track and your immune system well-protected.
Pro tip: the less you cook these veggies, the more nutrients your body will absorb.
6. Pumpkin Seeds
Aside from being one of the best sources of protein as far as seeds go, pumpkin seeds contain a lot of zinc, an essential mineral when it comes to regulating the immune system.
It turns out garlic not only wards off the undead, but it also clears out the potential cold.
Garlic is rich in flavonoids, allicin, and selenium, in addition to a list of immune-boosting nutrients that increase the number of T-cells in your bloodstream. It can also combat stress and fatigue, which are root causes of illness.
I can't stress this enough -- a happy gut is a healthy gut, which means probiotics are essential for a well-balanced diet and thriving immune system.
Yogurt, especially Greek yogurt, is loaded with probiotics that work to ensure, in addition to good gut health, your immune system and sleeping patterns are stable.
Long live the green smoothie, amirite?
Spinach is rich in vitamin C, but it also contains a ton of antioxidants and beta carotene.
Drop a few handfuls into your favorite smoothie, add to leafy salads, or cook it as a side to pair with literally any meal.
I'm not talking about the yellow stuff that comes with your sushi, sweetie (fun fact: that stuff's actually pickled!).
Grating ginger into warm cups of tea, into smoothies, or using it as a cooking spice will increase the odds of opposing inflammatory illnesses, sore throats, and even nausea.