by Sarah Dean

With colder weather just around the corner, our immune systems could all use a boost to help protect us against the misfortune of flu season and the common cold that becomes more rampant when we have no choice but to stay indoors. However, instead of stockpiling packaged immune-boosting tablets, powders and drinks, consider taking a more natural route. Include in your diet more of the types of foods that will naturally help your immune system protect your body and overall health. Check out the following fruits and vegetables that can help you fight off sickness.

The benefits of ginger are fairly well-known, making it a common choice for cold and flu season. Ginger helps decrease inflammation, reducing sore throats, soothing inflammatory illnesses and even decreasing nausea.

Bell Peppers
Surprisingly, bell peppers are also a fantastic source of vitamin C. In fact, red bell peppers have nearly three times as much vitamin C in them as a typical orange. Not only that, but bell peppers contain a significant amount of beta carotene, which, when your body converts it into vitamin A, aids in maintaining your eyes and skin’s health.

Green Tea
Green tea contains a powerful antioxidant, including epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), that has been scientifically proven to enhance your immune system’s functioning. Green tea is also considered a good source of amino acid that helps produce compounds in your cells that fight germs.

These dark green leaves pack a powerful punch for immune system support. They contain vitamin C, antioxidants and beta carotene, all of which are essential to increasing the body’s immune system’s function. However, it’s important to note that spinach is healthiest when consumed in its raw form or cooked only slightly, rather than boiled or steamed down.

Citrus Fruits
Fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit all belong to the citrus family of fruits and are packed with vitamin C. We all know how vital vitamin C is when it comes to fighting off colds. Vitamin C is known to increase your white blood cell count, which helps your body fight off infections. There are many vitamin C supplements available on the market, but eating the actual fruits they’re made of will be much more effective.

This vegetable is like an immune-boosting powerhouse. Broccoli has significant amounts of vitamins A, C and E. It also contains antioxidants and a lot of fiber; because of that, broccoli might be one of the most beneficial things you can put on your plate. Much like spinach, its health value is highest when it is consumed raw or lightly steamed.

Overall, there are countless foods that you can consume to help increase the fighting power of the immune system, especially during times of the year when sickness is more common. Rather than seeking the immune boosts from processed products, consider adding more of the foods mentioned above to your diet to fight illness and live an overall healthier lifestyle.