It's that time of year again when one sneeze on the subway can send you into a paranoid panic and you're constantly dousing your hands in antibacterial sanitizer. Sure, sickness is sometimes inevitable in the colder months, but there are ways to avoid illness without turning into a total hypochondriac. In fact, what you eat can have a major impact on the state of your immune system.
So to make sure your body is ready to fight off whatever bug is floating around, add these foods to your plate:
If you want to ward off an illness entirely, load up on this juicy red fruit. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study in which subjects ate a tomato-rich diet for several weeks, and then cut them out completely for three weeks. While consuming a lot of tomatoes, the participants' white blood cells, which fight infection, suffered 38 percent less damage than when the participants weren't eating them. This effect is likely due to lycopene, an antioxidant found in tomatoes that can protect cells from free radicals. So feel free to slurp some soothing tomato soup during the cold winter months.
Sure, chilies will give your taste buds a major kick - but they have other powers that can be beneficial for your health. According to Women's Health magazine, studies have demonstrated that a daily dose of capsaicin - which is what makes these peppers taste spicy - can nearly triple the amount of antibody-producing cells in the body after just three weeks. Dr. Rina Yu, lead researcher at the University of Ulsan in South Korea, noted that other studies have found capsaicin strengthens the immune system. If chili is your favorite comfort meal in winter, rest assured you have a reason to dig in.
There's hardly a better way to start a cold winter day than with a piping hot bowl of oatmeal - and now you have added incentive to make this your go-to breakfast. Prevention magazine noted that oats are packed with beta-glucan, which has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties. Studies have shown that this type of fiber can actually help you ward off influenza. Not only that, but the compound may make antibiotics work more effectively. If oats aren't your favorite grain, barley can offer the same powerful perks.
Load up on this fish and you'll definitely avoid some of those sick days - the skin contains immunity-boosting vitamin D. Still, Dr. Adit Ginde, M.D., a public health researcher at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, explained to Women's Health that most people have a deficiency in this vitamin, and therefore, a supplement may be needed. Add a drop of the pure inventions D3+ dietary supplement to still or sparkling water every day to make sure your system is strong.