Conquer cold season with foods that boost your immune system


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Just thinking about cold and flu season makes some of us want to take a bath in hand sanitizer and hibernate until March — when the guy working in the cubicle next to us stops coughing and sneezing.

Sound dramatic? Possibly. But not misplaced.

Gallup reported this month that the 2013 flu season kicked off in its usual phlegmy way. Of course, vaccination helps, but a more delicious way to boost one’s immune system is to consume foods packed with antioxidants.

Let’s look at the top foods by food group that will boost your immune system for this year’s cold and flu season.


Fruits and vegetables

A diet packed with fruits and vegetables will improve one’s overall health, but some produce contain more antioxidants than others. Pro tip: Eat these foods either raw or lightly steamed to retain more antioxidants.

Berries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, mangoes, nectarines, orange, papaya, red, green or yellow peppers, snow peas, sweet potato, strawberries and tomatoes all are rich in vitamin C.

You can get plenty of vitamin E from broccoli, carrots, chard, mustard and turnip greens, mangoes, nuts, papaya, pumpkin, red peppers, spinach and sunflower seeds.


Meat, poultry and fish

Consuming meat, poultry and fish also will help your body fight during cold and flu season. Proteins rich in zinc, anti-inflammatories and selenium will boost the immune system and help fight off germs already in one’s body. Make sure to choose lean proteins to fortify amino acids and enhance T-lymphocyte function by reducing bad fats.

Beef is rich in zinc, a mineral that helps add muscle to your immune system. Having a zinc deficiency affects the way T cells function. 

There’s a reason why chicken soup is considered a go-to when we tend to a sick loved one. Anti-inflammatories found in chicken broth help soothe cold and flu symptoms.

The good news for you sickos that love shellfish is that those oysters, lobsters, crabs and clams are packed with selenium. Selenium aids white blood cells to produce the proteins, called cytokines, that push the flu virus out of your system.



Laugh if you want to at those Jamie Lee Curtis Activia commercials, but girlfriend must have a great immune system. Yogurt contains live active cultures, or probiotics, which are the good bacteria that keep your intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs.