Food as Medicine, Infectious Disease, Lifestyle Medicine

3 Superfoods to Boost Your Immunity This Cold and Flu Season

It’s the time of year when I swap my high heels for runners and a blue mask, preparing to face a waiting room overflowing with patients suffering from cold and flu viruses. Unfortunately, most of these bugs respond best to the “tincture of time” — exactly what you don’t want to hear when you’re fevered, achy, sniffling and coughing.

So, what’s my prescription to stay healthy this season? A dose of prevention, with the help of these superfoods.

Garlic. Garlic has been prescribed for centuries and science supports its claims in boosting respiratory health. In one small study, garlic consumers had 50 per cent fewer colds than their placebo-taking counterparts and recovered faster. The recommended dose is one clove of raw garlic daily; two to three times that amount is needed if it’s roasted or boiled. Pro tip: Roast bulbs by the batch (step-by-step guide on and enjoy spread on toast or tossed in salads or pastas.

Capsicum (red and yellow peppers). A half-cup serving provides double the vitamin C of an orange! Vitamin C is essential for immune function and can lessen how often you get sick (or how miserable you feel if you do take ill). In studies, athletes reduced their incidence of colds by 50 per cent by taking more C; asthmatic patients who ate more fruit and veggies improved their immune function and lung health. Other super C sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, kale, kiwi, oranges, strawberries and grapefruit.

Oysters. These fellas pack over 400 per cent of your recommended daily intake of zinc — key for developing a robust army of white blood cells and an effective immune system. Sadly, few other foods pack plentiful zinc and many Canadians are deficient. Most adults should aim for 15 milligrams daily. Legumes, chicken, pumpkin seeds and cashews contain small amounts of zinc, but careful planning is required to ensure you get enough.

Eat these superfoods to stay healthy and, if friends balk at your garlicky aroma, let them know you’re just doing your part in keeping the cold and flu bugs at bay (you’re welcome!).

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