Boosting Our Immune Systems During the Winter Months
Let’s face it – the winter months can be a challenge when it comes to healthy eating. Add to that a pandemic and what happens – we’re indoors much more than usual, not making many social plans and probably less active than in the warmer months. This year, more than ever, it’s important to keep our immune systems strong and healthy.
Boost your immune system this winter! First of all, keep unhealthy foods and drinks like sweets, chips, soda, sugary drinks and alcohol out of the house. These can wreak havoc on your immune systems. Lack of exercise and overeating also drains our immune function.
How to boost our immune systems: Eat lots of vegetables and fruit every day. They contain disease fighting antioxidants like Vitamins A, C and E, beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, selenium, manganese and zeaxanthin; eat foods high in Zinc like fish, oysters, poultry, eggs, and whole grains; drink more tea which contains polyphenols which may help to fight off viruses; eat fermented foods like yogurt, kefir and sauerkraut to provide live cultures to maintain healthy bacteria in our body and protect us from infections.
A great way to get immune boosting foods: make some healthy “comfort food” like homemade soups: butternut squash, chicken and vegetable soup, bean soups or turkey/vegetable/bean chili. Add Greek yogurt to soups to give them a creamy texture and taste. These choices can be made by the batch, eaten during the week and you can freeze some of it for another time.
~Michele Lubin, MS, RDN
Try this hearty, satisfying, immune boosting soup below.
“Creamy” Vegetable and Bean Soup
- 2 qts low sodium chicken broth
- 1 15.5 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, diced
- 1 cup frozen chopped string beans
- 1 ½ cup butternut squash, small cubes
- ½ cup fresh cilantro (coriander), finely chopped
- ½ cup fresh basil, finely chopped
- ½ cup Greek plain yogurt
Sautee onions and garlic in 1 Tbsp olive oil until tender. Add in the bell pepper, string beans and squash and sautee about 5 minutes. Add in chicken broth and simmer in a covered pot until squash is tender. Add spices, salt and pepper to taste and mix. Add in Greek yogurt, stir and serve.