How Food Choices Boost Winter Immunity

Even in a warm climate, winter still brings its ills; particularly when so many travelers flock to Florida. Your food choices can help boost immunity and prepare your body for the Flight of the Snowbirds.

Note: If you are pregnant or nursing, please consult with your doctor or midwife about any herbs or foods that may not be good for you and your baby.

Where to Start: Immunity Basics

Harvard Medical School offers a broad set of recommendations for boosting immunity. No surprise here: nutrition is a big one. Diet and immunity go hand-in-hand. The right diet can help your system hit the reset button. 

In addition to immunity help, good dietary nutrition helps regulate blood sugar, may reduce bad cholesterol, and can keep your hormones stabilized. Many nutrient-rich foods may stave off various types of cancer and heart disease as well. Luckily, these “super” foods can be found right down the produce aisle. Fall vegetables and fruits are coming into season, so take complete advantage of the rich diversity of antioxidant powers that stock your produce section and farmers markets. 

Picking Produce for Immunity Power

Your produce choices should reflect the whole rainbow. Healthline offers a starter list of fifteen foods that boost your immunity. In fact, citrus fruit – a Florida icon – tops the list due to its high vitamin C content. Don’t forget super grains like amaranth, quinoa, and wheat berry as a magnificent base for fabulous and rejuvenating salads. This early investment in your fresh fruit and vegetable intake can help spare you a lot of headaches as the colder months edge close.

While you might be able to find most fruits and veggies year round at your grocery store, eating locally-grown fruits and vegetables that are in season is recommended. Not only does this ensure quality, but it also helps you diversify your intake year round. The Spruce Eats published a really helpful calendar of produce in season in Florida. Even better news, especially if you take advantage of farmers markets, your wallet will see some health improvements, too! 

Sip, Sip, Sip: Immunity Boosting Drinks

Many reports have come out about the benefits of tea and its immunity-boosting power. Teas are rich in antioxidants, and every blend will have different benefits. Some companies even offer special focused blends which are widely available most grocery stores. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, black, chai, green, and chamomile teas offer their own immunity kick without all of the fuss.

Your herb garden is another great resource for immunity boosters. Fresh mint is an immunity powerhouse! Try a Mojito-inspired seltzer flavored with fresh mint and lime juice (muddled, if you like). Mint is also great for cooking, making tea, or spicing up your lemonade like in this recipe.

When it comes to immunity, don’t overlook fresh fruit and vegetable juices. When it’s available, fresh is best. The longer juice sits on the refrigerator shelf, the more nutritional value it loses. When fresh-squeezed juice is not an option, try heading to your closest natural foods store for the next best thing. Avoid labels that say from concentrate or juice cocktail. These often contain added sugar, corn syrup, or chemicals.

Powered Up Cooking

There are so many ways to incorporate fresh produce into your diet. An obvious choice is salad. There are endless combinations that can be used to make hearty, filling, and nutritious salads. Just remember to pair your salad with a light and healthy dressing. A simple squeeze of lemon, drizzle of olive oil, and some fresh pepper makes the perfect dressing for any salad.

Not a salad person? Steamed and sauteed vegetables, interesting stir fries, and roasted and grilled vegetables are a great alternative. Even unlikely candidates like nectarines and peaches grill beautifully. For the most benefit, avoid overcooking produce. In general, if it loses its color, you’re losing out. The exception to this rule is soup, which retains the minerals in the liquid that you will consume.

Meanwhile, rinse the sand off your feet, hit the veggie stand, and transform your plate into protection!