When winter comes, you find some women enjoying the rain and falling snow, but you find yourself suffering from coughing, sneezing, and influenza, and you wonder: Why me?
You begin searching for herbs and foods that strengthen immunity and protect you from the cold of winter, but to no avail, as you always need medicines and nutritional supplements. Are you really looking for an effective solution to this suffering that you are facing?
If your answer is yes, then you, my dear, must know that randomly choosing foods will not be of any benefit at all. Not all foods are able to boost immunity. Rather, you must focus on choosing foods that strengthen immunity, and learn when to resort to them to get the benefit of which.
Don’t worry, we are here to help you. We will explore together how your immune system works, and the role of foods in strengthening it.
In this Article
What is the Immune System?
The immune system is the way your body defends itself from threats from the outside world. It is a complex system of cells, tissues, and organs that recognizes everything that enters the body, such as the influenza virus.
When your immune system is strong, your body is better prepared to fight disease, but when your immune system is weak, you are more susceptible to contracting the disease.
Your immune system is also the key to fighting all types of cancers, and given its important role in your health, you must do everything you can to maintain its strength.
What Threatens the Immune System in Winter?
Madam, your immune system is exposed to many threats in the winter, as a result of environmental factors that increase your chance of being infected with various viruses and germs, in addition to some wrong habits and behaviors that you practice in the winter that also threaten your health.
Among these factors that weaken your immune system are the following:
- Avoid exercising in the winter, and sitting under covers for long hours without moving.
- Eat a lot of sugars and carbohydrates instead of eating immune-boosting foods, which disrupt your immune system for a few hours after eating them in excess.
- Drink a lot of coffee in the winter because of always wakeing up early.
- Smoking and drinking alcohol.
- Lack of humidity as a result of the operation of central heating systems in enclosed spaces, which increases the dryness of the air and affects the respiratory membranes.
- Lack of exposure to sunlight, and the resulting deficiency in vitamin D, which is necessary to strengthen the immune system and prevent diseases.
Foods that Strengthen Immunity Benefits
You hear a lot of advice about resorting to eating foods that strengthen immunity, especially in the winter, thanks to the great benefits they provide, and among these benefits we mention to you:
- Disease prevention: Eating foods that strengthen immunity can help you reduce the possibility of contracting various winter diseases, such as colds and influenza.
- Shortening the duration of the illness: If the immune system is strengthened, it may help you reduce the duration of the illness when infected, as an active and strong immune system can better deal with infection and speed up the recovery process.
- Improving the body’s response to treatment: When the body is equipped with a strong immune system, the response to the therapeutic effect can be more effective.
- Enhancing the feeling of well-being: Eating foods that strengthen the immune system can help you enhance the feeling of well-being and activity. When the body is protected and strong, it can resist stress and fatigue better.
- Improving the quality of life: Thanks to a strong immune system, the body can maintain good health and reduce the chances of contracting chronic diseases, such as chronic pneumonia, and this contributes to improving the quality of life.
Foods that Strengthen Immunity in the Winter
Eating foods that strengthen immunity in the winter is one of the best ways to maintain your health. Although it cannot treat illness after it occurs, such as influenza and Covid-19, and it cannot prevent the disease from occurring 100%, it strengthens the immune system and increases its defensive ability against various pathogens.
Below we will mention the types of foods that strengthen immunity and how to add them into your daily meals:
When we talk about eating foods that strengthen immunity, we must immediately think about citrus fruits, especially oranges, as citrus fruits play an important role in strengthening immunity and preventing many winter diseases. They also help shorten the time needed to recover from influenza after contracting it.
Here, ma’am, are some of the reasons why citrus fruits are beneficial to the immune system:
- Citrus fruits contain a high percentage of vitamin C, which enhances the activity of immune cells. It increases the production of antibodies that fight infection.
- Citrus fruits contain flavonoids, carotenoids and polyphenols that fight damage caused by free radicals in the body and strengthen the immune system.
- The citric acid found in citrus fruits has the ability to enhance the absorption of non-vegetarian iron from food, which is one of the minerals necessary for the function of the immune system, as it plays a role in the production of antibodies and enhancing the immune response.
- Citrus fruits contain a high percentage of water, which moisturizes the body to maintain the integrity of the primary immune defense elements.
Popular citrus fruits include:
You can eat them as fresh fruits or natural juices, or add them to other meals, and it is always recommended to eat them as part of a balanced and varied diet.
Garlic is not only considered a delicious food that adds a distinctive flavor to various dishes, but it is also considered one of the natural foods useful in strengthening the immune system, thanks to it containing powerful sulfur compounds known as allyl sulfides, which play a crucial role in enhancing and strengthening the body’s immune response.
Garlic also contains antioxidants that fight free radicals and reduce the harmful effects of oxidation in the body.
You can eat garlic in several ways, whether fresh or cooked, or added in its chopped or squeezed form to sauces, main dishes and soups to add an exceptional flavour. You can also take it as a nutritional supplement in the form of pills or capsules.
However, you should consult a doctor before consuming garlic as a nutritional supplement in some special medical cases. You should not rely on garlic alone to strengthen immunity, but rather you should eat other foods that strengthen immunity alongside it.
It is a group of essential fatty acids that play an important role in supporting and strengthening the immune system, thanks to it containing anti-inflammatory compounds known as eicosanoids.
Omega 3 also increases the number and activity of immune cells, such as natural killer cells and white blood cells, they contribute to enhancing the body’s ability to fight infections and diseases. In addition, omega-3 works to increase the production of cytokines, which are chemicals that play a crucial role in communicating between immune cells and regulating their response.
To benefit from the benefits of Omega-3, you can eat fatty fish, such as salmon, sardines, and tuna regularly, by cooking, grilling, or taking them in the form of nutritional supplements. You can also eat coconut and shea oil as alternative sources of Omega-3.
Olive oil is a rich source of nutrients and beneficial compounds, such as vitamin E, phenols and polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help fight free radicals and improve the function of the immune system.
كما يحتوي أيضاً على خصائص مضادة للالتهابات، ما يعزز استجابة الجهاز المناعي ويحمي الجسم من الالتهابات التي تكون شائعة في فصل الشتاء، مثل الزكام والتهابات الحلق.
In addition, olive oil contains other important vitamins, such as vitamin A and vitamin K, which enhance and support the health of the immune system.
Ginger is considered one of the foods that enhance immunity, thanks to it containing active compounds, such as zingiberol and gingerone, which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as they protect the body from free radicals and contribute to alleviating inflammation and reducing symptoms associated with respiratory diseases, such as coughing and nasal congestion.
You can use ginger in several ways in the winter. You can add it to warm tea to soothe the throat and relieve congestion. You can also use it in cooking to add a wonderful flavor to meals and dishes, or obtain it in the form of natural juice.
Honey is a great natural source for boosting immunity during the winter, thanks to it containing many vital nutrients and natural compounds that affect the immune system.
Honey contains a variety of important vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin C, various B vitamins, zinc, and selenium. These nutrients enhance and strengthen the immune system, making the body more able to fight infections and diseases.
In addition, honey contains antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties, which helps protect the body from infection and reduce the symptoms of seasonal diseases, such as colds and influenza.
You can drink it added to warm tea or milk, or use it as a natural sweetener in meals and drinks. You can also add it with lemon to soothe the throat and relieve congestion.
Berries are one of the delicious and nutritious fruits that are rich in many antioxidant nutrients, such as vitamin C, vitamin E, anthocyanins, and flavonoids, which enhance the activity of the immune system and protect the body from diseases.
Among the best types of berries that are classified as foods that strengthen our immunity are:
- Red berries.
- Cherry berries.
It is preferable to eat fresh berries to obtain the maximum amount of nutrients contained in them, whether in the form of fruit or in the form of natural juice.
Pomegranate is a delicious winter fruit that is very popular as a food ingredient that strengthens immunity, thanks to it containing high levels of vitamin C and other antioxidants, such as anthocyanins and flavonoids, which reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections by 33%, and reduce the duration of the common cold by up to 40%.
The small seeds in pomegranate also contain volatile oils that contain effective compounds, such as monounsaturated fatty acids, which contribute to enhancing general health and the immune system.
In addition, pomegranates contain important minerals, such as potassium, magnesium, and iron, which support the health of the body and improve the functions of the immune system as well.
Many studies have shown that green vegetables, especially dark ones, such as cabbage, spinach, and broccoli, strengthen the immune system, thanks to their high percentage of nutrients with anti-inflammatory properties.
Below are some of these elements:
- Vitamin A.
- Vitamin C.
- Vitamin K.
- Folic acid.
You can benefit from these vegetables by frying them in excellent olive oil with garlic, turmeric, and black pepper, or adding them to soup.
Also read: What are the Most Beneficial Vegetables?
Turmeric is a popular spice derived from the roots of the turmeric plant, which is part of the ginger family. Turmeric is widely used in the kitchen to add natural flavor and color to foods, but it is also considered a powerful nutritional supplement thanks to its healing and anti-inflammatory properties.
Turmeric contains an active compound known as curcumin, which is responsible for many of the health benefits of turmeric, as it is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and is believed to reduce the incidence of upper respiratory tract infections.
Turmeric also has antimicrobial and antiviral properties, which are useful in boosting the immune system during the winter when the body is vulnerable to infections and colds.
However, eating turmeric alone does not have any significant effect on your body, as your body absorbs turmeric poorly and eliminates it quickly. On the other hand, combining turmeric and black pepper greatly increases the benefits of curcumin, thanks to the main component of black pepper, which is piperine, which increases the bioavailability of curcumin.
Sweet Potatoes and Carrots
Sweet potatoes and carrots are major sources of beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin.
Beta-carotene helps the immune system in several ways including:
- Help produce white blood cells that fight bacteria and viruses.
- Supporting immune system cells, especially in eliminating infections.
- Regulating bone marrow function.
- Help in the formation of the mucous membranes that line the respiratory system, which is the protective barrier that prevents germs from entering the body.
The amount of vitamin A you need varies, but the average need as an adult is 700-900 microgram equivalents per day.
Walnuts are a type of nutritious nut that is considered a great choice when thinking about eating foods that strengthen the immune system, as walnuts contain a high percentage of nutrients that are beneficial to the immune system, including:
- Vitamin B6.
- Vitamin E.
- Monounsaturated fatty acids.
- Omega 3.
- Folic acid.
All of these elements play an important role in enhancing the functions of the immune system and protecting the body from infection.
Moreover, research has found that walnuts reduce mental stress that negatively affects immunity, making you have a better and stronger immune system.
Chicken soup contains a group of important nutritional components that enhance body health and support the function of the immune system.
One of the basic ingredients of chicken soup is the chicken itself, as it contains a high percentage of proteins, which are compounds necessary for the growth and regeneration of tissues in the body, and play an important role in enhancing the production of antibodies and immune cells, thus enhancing the body’s ability to fight infections and diseases.
Chicken soup also contains a variety of herbs and vegetables, such as onions, garlic, and carrots, and also contains vitamins and minerals necessary for the immune system.
In addition, the liquid in chicken soup contains many benefits, as it moisturizes the body and prevents dehydration, which is important for the health of the immune system. When the body is well hydrated, blood flow is enhanced and the movement of immune cells in the body is facilitated.
Eggs are a food source rich in vitamin D, which works not only to strengthen bones, rather, it is involved in the formation of a healthy immune system in the body, as the body suffers from a deficiency of vitamin D in the winter, due to lack of exposure to sunlight during cold winter days, which increases the chances of developing upper respiratory tract infections.
Eggs also contain many other proteins, vitamins, and minerals necessary for the immune system, including:
- Vitamin E.
- Vitamin A.
- Vitamin B12.
It is a fermented dairy product characterized by containing a group of beneficial bacteria known as acidophilic bacteria that produce yogurt, such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium. These bacteria help promote digestive health and achieve bacterial balance in the digestive system. When the digestive system is healthy, the immune system works better and is more effective to fight infection.
In addition to beneficial bacteria, yogurt contains anti-inflammatory compounds, such as probiotics, which help strengthen the immune system, enhance its functions, and reduce the risk of disease.
Drinks that Strengthen Immunity
Strengthening the immune system is not limited to eating foods that strengthen the immune system, there are also many drinks that are consumed for the purpose of strengthening the immune system.
Here are some of these common drinks:
- Green tea: Green tea contains antioxidants known as catechins, which are believed to boost the immune system and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
- Black tea: Black tea also contains antioxidants. Some studies have shown that consuming black tea can enhance the body’s immune response and reduce the risk of infection.
- Water: Drinking water on a regular basis is essential for a healthy immune system, as water helps hydrate the body and cleanse it of toxins, and contributes to transporting nutrients to the cells and removing waste from the body.
- Chamomile: Chamomile is a soothing and relaxing drink that contains compounds that help enhance the immune response and general health of the body.
- Cinnamon tea: Cinnamon tea contains anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which help protect the body from infection and enhance immune health.
Other Steps to Boost Immunity
Madam, in addition to eating foods that strengthen your immune system, you need to take more steps to achieve better immune health.
Among these additional steps we mention to you:
- Do moderate exercise regularly.
- Stop smoking if you smoke.
- Abstain from alcohol or drink it moderately.
- Try to get enough sleep, ranging between 7-9 hours a day, and then commit to going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day.
- Wash your hands regularly, especially when you return from outside, or after coming out of the toilet or coughing.
At the conclusion of this article, we can conclude that the defensive strength of the immune system in the winter lies in the correct choice of foods that strengthen immunity, and in achieving a balance between vitamins, minerals, and plant compounds in our diet.
So, Madam, be sure to include a variety of the previously mentioned foods in your daily meals and do not forget hot drinks, which play a major role in boosting your immunity.
Frequently Asked Questions about Foods that Strengthen Immunity
What is the best diet to strengthen the immune system?
The Mediterranean diet is considered one of the best diets that you can follow to get a fit body and a strong immune system as well.
What is the best time to eat foods that strengthen immunity?
The fall months are considered one of the best times to eat foods that strengthen immunity, due to their great role in preventing disease, as their role during illness is limited to shortening the period necessary for its recovery.
Are foods that strengthen immunity considered an alternative to cold and flu medications?
No, the role of foods that strengthen immunity during the disease is limited only to enhancing the response to treatment and shortening the time required for recovery, and therefore it is necessary to take the medicine at that time to obtain a better result.