The onset of winter solstice this past week marks the official start of yet another winter season, which means it’s that time again for the annual winter flu and cold season. But this spell comes with more challenges—with Covid-19 still raging in many countries, as well as the new travel restrictions raised by the new strain of the virus most recently. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is urging countries in the northern hemisphere to not overlook influenza and other common winter season viruses—to have proactive testing and place surveillance systems to identify the kind of viruses and their circulation. With these in mind, boosting our immunity comes with even greater importance these days. And in addition to keeping our mental health in check due to prolonged isolation and adapting to all the changes brought upon us by the pandemic, we’ve seen a broader and significant focus on food-buying practices, healthy diets, and eating habits. While you don’t have to fully commit to a plant-based diet or follow the Mediterranean; Paleo; DASH (dietary approaches to stop hypertension); Atkins; and the Ketogenic diet among many others, you can start easy and simple—without the food restrictions—by using some of the best plant-based and easily accessible ingredients in your everyday dishes and regular recipes.
Immune-Boosting Fruits and VegetablesThe subject of immune health is wide, but one thing is constant—fruits and vegetables—and how its beneficial consumption is a common denominating factor in plant-based, weight loss, and popular diets. This power duo packs a punch, with its component of various vitamins and minerals, you can never go wrong with any kind of fruits and vegetables to incorporate in making more delicious, more sustainable, and more healthy favorite dishes. Some of the recommended ones are leafy greens (bell pepper, kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, broccoli) and citrus fruits (orange, lemon, grapefruit, lime, pineapple) for folate, iron, and vitamin C; colorful fruits and veggies (pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe, sweet potato, carrots) for vitamin A; bananas and potatoes for vitamin B6; and many others. From the main course, salad, soups, to desserts, try out these recipes with your choice of fruits and vegetables: broccoli salad with almond lemon dressing; sesame brussels sprouts curry; roasted chickpea Caesar salad; lemon broccoli rice bowl; grapefruit eggplant fries; raw lemon cherry cheesecake; delicate orange spice cake; creamy hummus soup; orange mint jalapeno salad; and carrot-orange soup.
Immune-Boosting Herbs and spicesHerbs and spices not only give aromas and distinct flavors to food, but they also come with many immune-boosting components such as antioxidants. Basil, garlic, turmeric, ginger, dill, cinnamon, cardamom, and cayenne are all versatile kitchen ingredients, easily available at your local market, and can be incorporated into your favorite beverages and recipes. So, make sure you have some of these in your spice rack for that instant flavorful, aromatic, and antioxidant- boosted delicious foods. But among the many herbs and spices, some are given more attention for their therapeutic benefits and properties and are also highly recommended by Johns Hopkins Medicine: