Getting sick now may not have the same meaning it did in the early COVID days. But there’s still cold-weather illnesses to keep us on our toes — such as “flurona.”
Your health and ability to fight illness hangs in a delicate balance during the colder months. One of the most basic and effective changes you can make to stay healthy? Filling your plate with immunity-boosting foods.
Here’s how your diet can help keep you from getting sick this fall and winter.
First Things First — What’s Flurona?
The term flurona was coined a few flu seasons ago. It refers to when someone comes down with COVID and the flu at the same time — which is inconvenient for most (at best) and dangerous for others (at worst).
The colder months make us more susceptible to illness for several reasons. One factor is that the lack of humidity creates an ideal environment for diseases to linger in the air, making it easier for viruses to circulate among people in proximity to one another.
The Diet-Immune System Connection
When it comes to boosting your immune system against the common cold and the flu, your diet is one of your greatest assets.
Here are some of the immunity-boosting benefits of eating a healthy diet — flurona season or not:
- Strengthens your gut microbiome: Having a healthy gut microbiome, sometimes referred to as the “forgotten organ” because of how much it impacts your overall health, makes you more capable of fighting off illnesses.
- Boosts your vitamin intake: Having a diet rich in vitamins can make you less susceptible to illness, especially when you’re getting enough vitamin C and D.
- Gives you high-quality energy: You need long-lasting energy to get through the day and protect yourself from disease.
- Makes you less susceptible to sickness: When you fill your plate with healthy foods, it leaves less space in your diet for foods that can make you more susceptible to illness — namely sugar. Sugar is an inflammatory substance and is also known to harm your microbiome.
Foods to Improve Your Immune System
Here are a few foods you can incorporate into your diet to help improve your immune system, year-round.
1. Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C is a well-known superhero when it comes to fighting illness, as it increases your white blood cell count. Citrus fruits are notoriously high in vitamin C, so try to eat some every day. Oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits, clementines, or tangerines are all great options for a snack or to complement a meal. It’s ideal to eat citrus fruits in their natural state, rather than a juice variety, to avoid excess sugar.
Ginger is a great way to decrease inflammation in the body. Many people turn to ginger to soothe a sore throat or calm nausea. You can also easily ingest ginger each day via capsules, powders, tonics, or teas. Some even believe this super spice can help fight chronic pain.
If you want to help support a healthy gut microbiome, yogurt is an excellent addition to your diet. Be sure to get plain, full-fat yogurt to reap the most benefits. (It won’t do you much good if all the nutrients have been replaced with sugar.) Yogurt also contains vitamin D, which can boost your immunity even more.
Spinach is loaded with vitamin C, antioxidants, and beta-carotene — all of which help your immune system fight off infection. Spinach is healthiest when consumed raw. So, to get the most from this leafy green, try eating it in a salad or blending it into a smoothie.
Turmeric is a staple spice in many curries, but it can also be used in teas or tonics to help fight inflammatory conditions and illnesses. Not only will turmeric help your body fight viruses, it has been shown to treat both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.
6. Green Tea
Green tea contains large amounts of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). EGCG has been shown to greatly help the immune system in fighting off diseases. Try replacing your morning cup of coffee with a nice cup of green tea instead.
If you’re a fan of flavoring your meals with garlic, keep it up. Garlic has been used for centuries to help fight against infections. It also aids the immune system, lowers blood pressure, and helps prevent the hardening of arteries.
Of course, just because you eat healthily, it doesn’t mean you won’t ever get sick. For that reason, it’s smart to follow some common basic practices to protect yourself from getting sick:
- Try to limit contact with people who are sick
- Get adequate rest each night
- Wash your hands
- Pay attention to any symptoms
The Bottom Line
Adding some new healthy foods and supplements into your diet may be just enough to tip the scales in your favor the next time you’re exposed to a virus or bacteria — especially during the colder months.
What you eat has such a big impact on your health, but it’s not always easy to change overnight. Creating a diet you enjoy and that keeps you from getting sick is a habit like any other. Look for small changes to make to reach your goal of becoming a healthier person — flurona season or not.
If you’re looking to create changes and habits to become your healthiest self, learn how an Arootah coach can support you on your path.