5 Christmas Foods That Boost Immunity
The holidays are quickly approaching, and most people are ready to overindulge in everything that is Christmas. From getting together with family to presents under a tree, everything is in excess at this time of year. That, of course, includes food. Who doesn’t love a good holiday spread filled with all their favorite seasonal fare? During the festive season, we often reach for less than healthy foods – but we can also load our plates with food that packs a serious health punch without even realizing it.
It's a mixed bag regarding food during this time of year, but that doesn’t mean you need to sacrifice your health in the name of festive fun. Many staple holiday meal items can actually help to boost your health – specifically, your immune system. So, what are the best foods to eat during the holidays to ensure all that cheer doesn’t do you harm? Let’s investigate some Christmas foods that boost immunity while also being delicious.
How can I boost my immune system in the winter?
When the temperature drops and we stick to more indoor activities, we’re priming ourselves for catching seasonal infections. The spread of germs isn’t worse in the winter because of the season itself, but rather due to sitting in close quarters with more people for extended periods. The winter season is a stark difference from the open-air outdoor activities that many participate in when the sun is shining and the temperature calls for T-shirts.
Since you’re more susceptible to colds and flu in the winter months, boosting your immune system for better protection can help keep those infections at bay so you can roll through the holiday season without the sniffles. There are several ways you can give your immunity the kick it needs in the winter. Try to:
Focus on quality sleep
During winter the days are shorter – sometimes it feels as if the sun disappears almost as quickly as it rises. This can throw off your sleep schedule. You’ll want to ensure you get adequate sleep to avoid harming your immunity; that means not too little and not too much. Getting the correct type of sleep has been shown to improve your defenses.
It’s hard to force yourself outside for a jog when it’s nearly freezing and there’s snow everywhere. But that doesn’t mean you can’t fit in some more comfortable exercise. Dance in your living room, join a local gym, or buy some weights to work out with at home. The activity you choose doesn’t matter so long as you’re getting movement every day. Your immune system will thank you for it – exercise regulates the immune system, so stay consistent, even if outdoor workouts aren’t feasible right now.
Keep up the H20
It might be tempting to stick to warm beverages such as coffee throughout winter, but it can act as a diuretic and, in turn, dehydrate you. Your immune system needs you hydrated for it to function at its best. If you love a warm beverage on a cold day, try warming up some water with lemon and sip away. You’ll get the added benefit of hydration, and you won’t have to chug a cold glass of water to do it. Tea is also a good option if you want to keep your liquid intake up without getting dehydrated.
Stress is terrible for overall health, including the immune system. The holidays can be stressful for some because of how busy and demanding they can be. However, it’s important to try to stay as calm and collected as possible in order to keep that immune function up. Incorporate some stress relief techniques, such as meditation, and your immune system will thank you.
What are the best healthy Christmas foods for immune health?
One vital aspect of immune health is what you put into your body. During the holidays, you may be more relaxed than usual in terms of avoiding the “bad” and consuming the “good.” While that’s okay, you’ll have to incorporate some of the best foods to boost your immune function to counterbalance all that overindulgence. The good news is that some of the best foods you can eat are already Christmas superfoods!
Turkey is often the star of the show, and for good reason – a whole delectable spread can be made around it. One good thing about eating turkey during the holidays is that it’s a healthy meat option. It’s lean, low in fat, and contains various nutrients the body needs to function at its best. The primary nutrient that helps with immunity is protein, but turkey also contains selenium, which supports healthy immune function too.
Red wine, in moderation, is a great Christmas beverage to incorporate into your healthy holiday lifestyle. Red wine can help with immunity because it’s high in polyphenols, which are plant compounds that play a role in various bodily processes. Polyphenols have been shown to improve immunity by helping immune cells act to deal with pathogenic threats.
No Christmas plate would be complete without a helping of veggies, and carrots are a firm favorite. If you’re looking to boost your immune system at the holiday dinner table, adding carrots is a great way to do it. This bright and vibrant vegetable contains high levels of copper, zinc, and iron, which have been shown to improve immune health.
Cranberries are another staple food over the holidays. From cranberry-infused drinks to tasty sauces, these berries a versatile and sweet addition to any meal. Cranberries are also great for boosting your immune health because they contain high levels of vitamin C. Vitamin C is shown to fight off oxidative stress, which aids in the immune system’s ability to fight harmful pathogens.
Herbs and spices
Many dishes served at Christmas dinner contain a plethora of herbs and spices to enhance the flavors on offer. But those spices do more than improve the taste. Spices and herbs have been shown to help improve the immune system in many ways. Specific spices you may want to use over the holidays include cloves, ginger, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, and basil.
Whether you’re hosting or simply showing up for a meal, eating the foods mentioned above will give your immune system the boost it needs to get through the holidays unscathed.