We’ve officially said goodbye to another summer, time to turn our attention to pumpkin spiced everything, warm sweaters and new ways to boost the immune system. Unfortunately, fall brings more than colorful landscapes and crisp apples. It also brings cold and flu germs that can ruin all the fun this season has to offer. Food to the rescue! Food is the fuel that gives a body energy, but it can be so much more. The right foods can help boost your immune system to fight off all those nasty bugs or at least decrease the length and severity of colds and flu.
Five Fall Favorites to Boost Your Immune System
1. Button Mushrooms
Plain old white button mushrooms are packed with B vitamins and the mineral selenium. Being low in selenium can worsen flu symptoms if you’re unfortunate enough to get sick. B vitamins riboflavin and niacin play an important role in supporting a strong immune system. Add mushrooms to your fall soups stews and slow-cooker meals whenever possible.
2. Wheat Germ
Wheat products have gotten a bad rap in the past few years, and certainly some people need to maintain a gluten-free diet for specific health issues. But for most people, whole-grain wheat products still have a place is a well-balanced diet. The most nutritious and immune boosting—part of wheat is the germ, the portion of the wheat seed that nourishes the growing plant. Wheat germ contains zinc, antioxidants and B vitamins to protect your health. Consider substituting wheat germ for a portion of the white flour in your favorite seasonal baked goods.
Probiotics play a big role in keeping the digestion system functioning well, and we now know that a major portion of the immune system lives in the gut. Foods like yogurt and kefir with live active cultures are a rich source of probiotics, those good bacteria that keep the digestive and immune systems running in top form. A serving of yogurt with fresh fruit makes a great breakfast or snack when your busy fall schedule has you eating on the go.
4. Sweet Potato
Sweet potatoes are a quintessential fall food. Baked, steamed, mashed or roasted everyone loves their sweet hearty taste. And hurray, they’re also really good for you! Along with carrots, mangoes, and other orange foods, sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene which helps fights damaging free radicals and boosts the immune system to fight disease and some of the unwanted effects of aging.
5. Coconut Oil
Of course we couldn’t leave coconut oil off the list! Especially when it’s such a powerful source of immune-boosting goodness. The lauric and caprylic acids in coconut oil are well-documented for having anti-viral properties that may prevent or ease the symptoms of influenza, giardia lamblia, candida, herpes and other viral diseases. Coconut oil is perfect for use in fall baking, slow-cooking and all those hearty “low and slow” roasted meals we enjoy this time of year.