One of the best ways to prevent your immune system from weakening during the prolonging coronavirus pandemic is to continue taking all the necessary precautions as per CDC guidelines. However, it is also important to understand the role that healthy lifestyle changes can play in strengthening your body’s immune response to infections. This is especially important during the winter as colds, flus, and other respiratory illness are common in the chillier months.
Certain nutritious, immune-boosting foods can build your body’s natural defenses and protect it against foreign invaders, according to UC Davis Health. This is attributed to the power of nutrients contained in those foods like vitamin A, vitamin C, and iron, which can naturally keep your immune system strong and healthy.
We spoke to Amanda Nicole, RDN, a registered dietician and recipe developer from Los Angeles, California. Here, she provides her top five favorite soup recipes that are sure to boost your immune system this winter!
“Red lentils contain 24g of protein per cup. Protein helps your body heal and recover quickly,” says Nicole. “Lentils are also high in iron. Iron is necessary for the proliferation and maturation of immune cells to protect the body. The addition of the vitamin C from lemon helps iron absorb best.”
“Vitamin C is involved with many functions in the immune system. A ½ cup of tomatoes contains 20% vitamin C and 15% vitamin A. Consuming a sufficient amount of vitamin C before you get sick can help shorten the duration and severity of a cold. Vitamin A aids in keeping our skin, eyes, cells, and bones healthy. Basil adds a bold and delicious flavor to the soup. When adding basil, you don’t need to add a lot of fats and salt. Studies have found saturated fats from animal products can weaken the immune system,” explains Nicole.
“White beans and artichoke are high in fiber, which feeds the good bacteria in our digestive tract. A large portion of our immune system is housed in the digestive tract,” says Nicole. “Kale earns the title of being a superfood as a cup of it contains over 100% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C. Vitamin A and C are both antioxidants and fight oxidative damage. Oxidative damage is the one of the top contributors to chronic disease.”
“Butternut Squash is packed with immune boosting C, A, and E vitamins. Vitamin E protects cells and supports immunity. Ginger is a strong antioxidant, supporting the immune system. Gingerol, a component of ginger, has been studied for its powerful effects in reducing oxidative stress. Ginger can also help reduce nausea, fight infections, and reduce risk of chronic disease,” explains Nicole.
5. Miso Soup
“The fermenting process to make miso contains many probiotics. Probiotics are live bacteria that support the immune system by protecting the gut lining against harmful bacteria,” says Nicole. “Mushrooms are high in vitamin D, which plays an important role in the immune system.”