Chills, sneezing, achy joints – ew! You’ve got the winter bug (or one of many of them), it seems. Having an illness or even just winter allergies is one of the least fun things to deal with during a time that’s filled with some of the year’s biggest holidays. No one wants to be the party pooper at an event, but when you don’t feel good, well… it’s hard to be all smiles and full of cheer – right?

The best way to prevent having to deal with a cold, the flu, or allergies during the jolliest time of the year is to prevent them from coming on in the first place. It’s also a good idea to have an arsenal of natural remedies up your sleeve that you can turn to when signs of any sickness or allergic reaction start to appear. Thankfully, nature has some pretty tasty foods that can help us all do just that. Certain foods contain just the right vitamins, minerals, or macro-nutrients that our bodies need to feel their best. Here are some of the best:

1. Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Carrot and Leek Soup

Source: Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Leek Soup

Sweet potatoes are packed with beta-carotene, (which is indicated by their glowing orange hue), which converts to Vitamin A in the body. Vitamin A helps to fight off free radicals that weaken the immune system and can also help improve your liver health to benefit you further. High amounts of Vitamin C are also found in sweet potatoes, which help scavenge up free radicals, along with strengthening overall immunity. Eat a sweet potato a few times a week to get the benefits. Try baked sweet potatoes, sweet potato soup, and even a sweet potato smoothie or hummus.

2. Carrots

Cream of Wild Rice Soup

Source: Cream of Wild Rice Soup

Carrots are also full of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, which offer up the same benefits as sweet potatoes. Carrots have also been linked to improving even the most serious diseases such as heart disease and cancer. They’re also helpful for clearing out excess mucus from the body and excellent for combatting a low mood that can come when you’re not feeling well. Enjoy them in freshly squeezed carrot juice, Cream of Wild Rice Vegan Soup, Carrot Miso Soup (which offers even more healing benefits), or Cleansing Quinoa Carrot Salad.

3. Spinach

Spinach Salad with Pistachios and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Source: Spinach Salad with Pistachios and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Spinach is a virtuous source of Vitamins A, C, E, K, and even a few B vitamins too. It might as well have ‘superfood’ tattooed on its leaves! Spinach also offers up proteins to support the body and strengthen the overall function of bodily organs. Whether eaten cooked or raw, spinach is also a good source of iron and its natural Vitamin C will increase the uptake of iron in your body to improve your red blood cell function. Vitamin E helps stave off free radicals and Vitamin K assists with overall healthy blood flow, crucial to overall immunity health. Try a detox spinach soup for something healing and nutritious, or just add a few spinach leaves to your morning smoothie!

4. Kale

Spring Kale Soup

Source: Kale and Dill Soup With Rice

Like spinach, kale is a go-to food for just about anything, including the flu, cold, cough, and even allergies. This leafy green improves the body’s defense mechanism and aids in strengthening. Kale is also a great source of magnesium (just like spinach) which will help combat fatigue, irregularity, and moodiness that can all come when you’re not feeling well. Vitamin C will help boost immunity and Vitamin A will provide even more healing benefits. Add it anywhere you can think of! How about a warming kale and dill soup with rice for something cozy?

5. Green Tea

Healthy Citrus Pear Ginger Detox Tea

Source: Healthy Citrus Pear Ginger Detox Tea

Green tea has so many healing benefits, starting with the way it lowers inflammation in the body and boosts immune function. When drunk warm, the beverage also helps clear out excess mucus, soothes a sore throat, and aids in overall cleansing. Green tea is also a great source of the amino acid L-theanine, which helps lower stress both mentally and physically. Aim to get three to four cups (decaf also works) of plain green tea in your day when you’re not feeling well. Add a squeeze of lemon for extra Vitamin C, flavor, and cleansing benefits. Also, add some herbal teas to your routine for even more healing benefits.

6. Green Peas

Green Pea soup

Source: Raw Green Pea Soup

Protein helps the body’s defense and strengthening mechanisms, and peas are one of the easiest to digest, most inexpensive and body-friendly choices. They’re a rich source of amino acids and fiber and even have a delicious sweet flavor. Add peas to soup, stews, wraps, and salads, and even toss a few into your next green smoothie!

7. Pumpkin Seeds

Raw Avocado Cacao Shake

Source: Raw Avocado and Cacao Smoothie

Pumpkin seeds are a wealth of iron, protein, and even omega-3 fatty acids. They’re one of the few seeds to offer alkalizing benefits, along with sunflower and hemp seeds. Their bright green color indicates their high chlorophyll content which strengthens the body, lowers inflammation, and promotes alkalinity that lowers risks for illness and disease. Pumpkin seeds are also a good source of Vitamin E to fight off free radicals and their high amino acid content can help promote a healthy mood and strong body. Pumpkin seeds are even anti-parasitic and are said to help eliminate even the scariest forms of bacteria within the body. Use pumpkin seeds raw and unroasted whenever possible and add them to your bowl of creamy oatmeal, atop a smoothie, or even just as a simple snack.

8. Fresh Vegetable Juice

Carrot Juice

Source: Carrot Juice

Freshly squeezed vegetable juice is one of the most healing tonics you can consume. Forget using them for detox diets – they’re a true wellness virtue to be enjoyed. Green juice, carrot juice, and tomato juice are all packed with antioxidants from these foods that can be hard to force down if you’re not feeling your best. Having some freshly squeezed vegetable juice will strengthen your immunity and deliver nutrients when your body needs them the most.

9. Hot Vegetable Broth

vegetable broth

Source: How to Make Oil-Free Vegan Vegetable Broth

A hot cup of broth is another good option if you’re not in the mood for juice. Stick to veggie (not chicken) broth, and keep it low-sodium when possible. If you don’t feel like making your own, there are plenty of organic, low-sodium brands on the market that are excellent for helping you feel better fast. Drink a few cups a day and sprinkle in some cayenne, turmeric, sage, and black pepper for even more immune-boosting, healing benefits.

10. Camu Camu

A true superfood that belongs in every wellness warrior’s kitchen is the almighty superfood, camu camu berry. Forget oranges for your Vitamin C! They don’t hold a candle to a 1/2 teaspoon of camu camu berry powder, which has 600 times the amount of Vitamin C you need daily. Take that colds, coughs, and the flu! Camu camu’s high Vitamin C content can also help strengthen the skin, helping promote a beautiful glow, along with luscious hair and nails. Best of all, it’s sold as a raw superfood powder, so it’s easy to add to oatmeal, a smoothie, or even blended into some water or almond milk with ice and a little stevia for taste. Consume a teaspoon a day when you’re not feeling well or a half teaspoon daily to prevent colds and illness from even coming on at all.

11. Probiotic-Rich Foods

kimchi

Source: How to Make Kimchi At Home

Probiotics help boost immunity right where it starts – in the gut. You’re only as good as the bacteria in your gut that’s taking care of you. You might as well make sure these guys are as strong as they can be, right? Probiotic-rich foods include cultured and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut kefir, non-dairy yogurt, kombucha (this one’s powerful, beware), apple cider vinegar, real pickles, and even 100 percent raw cacao. Choose a variety of these foods or take a vegan probiotic supplement. You’ll be surprised how your immune system improves once you increase the good bacteria in your gut that eliminate harmful bacteria without you even knowing it.

12. Garlic, Ginger, and Onions

Soupe Al Oignon

Source: French Onion Soup

These are “the big 3” that will combat even the nastiest of all illnesses! They’re all beneficial for lowering inflammation, clearing out mucus, improving allergies, and reducing the overall length of illness. Combine them in soups and stews, and steep ginger root into tea whenever you can. Try Carrot Ginger Soup as an excellent place to start!

Other Wellness Wonder Tips:

Aim to eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, leafy greens, whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and other healthy fats daily. Keep all sweets and high-fat foods to a minimum, and consider reducing or eliminating all dairy products along with gluten products if you’re sensitive. These foods may weaken the ability to overcome allergies and don’t aid in cleansing and clearing out the body the way these whole foods above do. Remember to keep your diet as fresh and balanced as possible and get enough rest. Getting some fresh air daily will also help keep the bad bugs away as well, even when you don’t feel like getting out and moving at all. What are your best go-to foods and drinks for winter ailments?

Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, gut health, and more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, and prostate cancer, and has many side effects

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster App which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental and health benefits of a plant-based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

Easy Ways to Help the Planet:

  • Eat Less Meat: Download Food Monster, the largest plant-based recipe app on the App Store, to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy. You can also buy a hard or soft copy of our favorite vegan cookbooks.
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