The winter season is one of the most festive times of year, but it is also the cold-and-flu season. Last winter, I got a stuffy nose and sore throat three times. As soon as I recovered from a cold, the lack of nutrients in my diet coupled with little sleep pushed me into another period of cold symptoms. It was a terrible cycle. I was getting sick every other week. That's when I realized something needed to change.
As soon as I treated myself to a full 8 hours of sleep and drank orange juice each morning, I was healthy again. This winter, I'm committed to being COLD-FREE. Along with the multiple glasses of OJ and adequate sleep, incorporating more natural foods in my diet can help steer the common cold away from my body. But how?
Well, it starts with dietary changes. The western diets (that most Americans are used to) are ultra-processed. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, natural fruits and vegetables can significantly improve the immune system simply because they provide the micronutrients "critical for the growth and function of immune cells" that processed-foods diets lack. This explanation from Harvard Medicine echoes the methods of that electric alkaline vegans. Electric alkaline vegans focus on a plant-based diet, with plants that haven't been genetically modified or hybridized. They refer to the teachings of Dr. Sebi, who focused on raw and un-modified foods to fight acid food waste and consequently prevent diseases that thrive in acidic environments. No matter your food philosophy, nutrient-rich natural foods are essential for a strong immune system.
So, I've put together a list of fruits and vegetables that both ancient foods advocates and modern medical journals recommend for a healthy immune system. Professors of Medicine and Nutrition at Harvard stated that a balance of all vitamins is best. Keep scrolling for a list of essential vitamins and their immunity-boosting foods.
1. Vitamin C
The classic cold remedy. Vitamin C can noticeably reduce the severity of cold symptoms. Studies show that Vitamin C stimulates the production and function of white blood cells, as well as cells that attack foreign bacteria and viruses.
- Black currants
2. Beta Carotene / Vitamin A
Beta-Carotene is an antioxidant immune booster; it has been shown to increase immune cell activity. Beta Carotene is also essential to healthy skin and vision. Carrots, which are known for being good for the eyes, are rich in Beta-Carotene.
- Red bell pepper
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E is also an antioxidant, but it’s found in fatty foods such as nuts and seeds. Fatty foods can restrain the white blood cells in your immune system. Dr. Neal Barnard M.D. recommends a palm-size serving per day.
4. Vitamin B6
Vitamin B6 fights off infections by increasing the formation of antibodies in the immune system. According to the National Institute of Health, Vitamin B6 has been shown to improve cognitive function, and reduce premenstrual syndrome (PMS) symptoms.
5. Other Produce (Vitamin B6 and C)