Better Than A Flu Shot? 20 Foods For Winter Immunity

NBC News – This winter could shape up to be a gnarly one if weather predictions play out, potentially ushering in a ghastly cold and flu season.

Getting a flu shot is critical in protecting your and (others’) health, [not everyone agrees; see below. – Ed.] but beyond that, you should also focus on building up your immune system. You can help do that by consuming healthy foods that tout immunity-boosting agents.

PREVIOUSLY: Is a flu shot really “critical in protecting your health”? 

“While there is no one miracle food that will miraculously cure a cold or ward off cancer, there are foods that you can eat every day to keep yourself healthy and ready to fight off any infections that may come your way,” says Catherine Brennan, RD.

Here’s what registered dietitians recommend:

BEANS

“Usually associated with their high-fiber content, this is also what makes [beans] good prebiotic foods. Prebiotics feed the good bacteria in the gut, and the gut is actually where most of the immune function in the body is mediated,” says Dr. Keith Ayoob, RD, nutritionist and associate clinical professor at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

BERRIES

“Berries are packed with antioxidants — key for our immune health because they help the body deal with inflammation or invaders, such as bacteria and viruses,” says Ashley Reaver, RD. “They are also high in soluble fiber and lower in sugar than other fruits, which can help keep inflammation at bay.”

BISON

“Buffalo meat is high in zinc, which is important in increasing white blood cells to fight off infections,” says Kerry Clifford, RD and spokesperson at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, adding that bison is “packed with protein, iron and Vitamin B12, too.”

OYSTERS AND SHELLFISH

Speaking of zinc, oysters have more of the mineral than any other food, says Samantha Cassetty, RD, NBC News BETTER’s nutrition columnist. Cassetty adds that since most of us don’t eat oysters every day (if ever), you can also get zinc from other seafood, like shrimp or crab.

DARK CHOCOLATE AND COCOA POWDER

“Dark chocolate is high in antioxidants — flavonoids in particular,” says Reaver. “Like other antioxidants, flavonoids help to reduce the impacts of inflammation, which can tax the immune system.” Get the full list at NBC News. 

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