This school year looks a bit different than years past but one thing which doesn’t change, whether you are learning virtually or in person right now, is the illnesses that come for us all. In the midst of a global pandemic you can fill your grocery cart with things that give your immune system an extra jump start. Now this may not keep you CoVid-19 free but it’s a great move toward an overall immune boost to help prevent other illnesses that can weaken your immune system.
There are plenty of foods and superfoods that will help to keep our defenses as strong as possible, thanks to certain nutrients they contain. Here are just a few:
- Here I come to save the day! Mighty citrus is on its way. Citrus fruits like oranges, limes, lemon and grapefruits give you a straight dose of nutrients like vitamin C, which give your immune system an overall boost.
- Garlic: bad for vampires but fantastic for you. Not only is it a fabulous addition to your dish for its aroma and flavor, but it also has medicinal properties. Garlic can directly help fight infections and was sometimes used as a topical remedy in ancient times for wounds. It also benefits your cardiovascular system and boosts your immune system.
- Hit me yogurt, one more time! Yogurt is a good source of live bacteria that are good for your digestive system. The health of our digestive system is one of the biggest contributors to the health of our immune system. The digestive system also helps process illness-fighting nutrients and can even combat illnesses directly. Yogurt helps keep the digestive system healthy and functioning properly.
- Popeye is a fan of spinach and you should be too. Spinach, a superfood in its own right, is also a very good source of Vitamin C and antioxidants to help keep us from falling ill and boost the immune system. Just make sure not to overcook it and lose the nutritional value.
- I like it when they call me “Big PAPAya.” Papaya is originally a native fruit of South America but is now grown all over the world in tropical climates. It is a good source of vitamin C but also contains an enzyme called papain, which helps reduce inflammation in the body.
- The name’s Pepper. Bell Pepper. Whether green, red, yellow, or orange, they all contain vitamin C and antioxidants which give your immune system an overall boost. Try and choose the red bell variety as it contains more of these nutrients than the others.
- You calling me chicken? When you don't feel well, do you ever wonder why chicken soup or chicken broth is always the go-to? Well it and other poultry are a good source of protein as well as vitamin B-6, which plays a very important role in maintaining a healthy immune system.
- Pure almond joy. A very popular nut eaten all over the world, almonds are a very good source of vitamin E, which is essential for maintaining a healthy immune system. They are also a good source of healthy fats to keep us in good shape.
- Ginger has more fun! It has long been used since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Also used for its amazing flavor, it contains healthy compounds that boost our immune system.
- Please eat your broccoli. Another superfood, broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, plus fiber. It is one of the healthiest vegetables that you can put on a plate. Just like spinach, it is key to cook it as little as possible to maintain its nutrients.
- Y’all gonn' make me lose my *rind* up in here, up in here. Watermelon is always a fruit favorite but also an immune system booster in its own right. It contains vitamins A and C, plus potassium. All of these vitamins and nutrients help the immune system to function properly.
- It's okay to be “shellfish” about it. Lobster is an amazing source of zinc but to be a little more budget friendly you can also use clams, crabs, and mussels. Zinc is a mineral that is very important for the proper functioning of your immune system.
Sure, you can go to a store and buy vitamins and supplements but food is just such a fun and delicious way to get your daily requirements to help your immune system.
So whether your child is at home doing virtual class or in person at school, all it takes is a few servings of food you most likely already have and are also being served from the cafeteria, to help give their little bodies the best defense they can have during this cold and flu season.
Jennifer Beckom is mom to twin five year olds, Clara and Elizabeth. She is a wife, chef, and child nutritionist. She has served on the board in the past as Secretary and Programs VP for FWMoM.