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Smialek: 4 Superfoods to strengthen your immune system this cold, flu season


As we find ourselves in the midst of the cold and flu season, strengthening our immune system becomes paramount in maintaining optimal health and well-being for the entire family. While practicing proper hygiene is an essential strategy, incorporating immune-boosting foods into our daily diet can provide an added layer of defense.

Here are four superfoods that can help fortify your immune system and keep those seasonal bugs at bay:


Garlic has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, including its immune boosting effects. It contains compounds like allicin, which has been shown to enhance the immune response by stimulating the activity of white blood cells. Additionally, garlic exhibits antimicrobial properties, making it effective against various pathogens, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Incorporating garlic into your meals not only adds flavor but also provides a potent immune boost. Whether minced and added to sauces, soups or stir-fries, garlic is a versatile ingredient that can help keep colds and flu at bay.


Yogurt is not only a delicious snack but also a potent immune booster. It is rich in probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut microbiome. A robust gut microbiome is crucial for optimal immune function since a significant portion of the body’s immune cells resides in the gut. Probiotics help maintain the balance of good bacteria in the gut, thereby strengthening the body’s defense against pathogens. When choosing yogurt, opt for varieties that contain live and active cultures, such as Greek yogurt or kefir, for maximum immune-boosting benefits.

Leafy greens

Leafy greens such as spinach, kale and Swiss chard are nutritional powerhouses packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that support immune function. They are rich in vitamins A, C and E, as well as folate, all of which play vital roles in bolstering the immune system. Additionally, leafy greens contain phytonutrients like flavonoids and carotenoids, which possess anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Incorporating a variety of leafy greens into your diet can help strengthen your immune system and promote overall health. Try adding them to salads, smoothies or sautéed dishes for a nutritious boost.

Citrus fruits

Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruits are renowned for their high vitamin C content, which is essential for immune function. Vitamin C enhances the production of white blood cells, which are vital in fighting off infections. Additionally, it possesses antioxidant properties that help protect cells from damage caused by harmful molecules known as free radicals. Incorporating citrus fruits into your diet can be as simple as enjoying a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice in the morning or adding slices of lemon to your water throughout the day.

As cold and flu season persists, prioritizing immune health remains essential. While there is no magic bullet for preventing illness, incorporating immune-boosting foods into your diet can provide valuable support to your body’s defense mechanisms.

Citrus fruits, yogurt, garlic and leafy greens are just a few examples of superfoods that can help strengthen your immune system and keep you healthy throughout the colder months. By making these foods a regular part of your diet, you can give your body the tools it needs to fend off illness and thrive all year round.

Dr. Kiera Smialek is a naturopathic pediatrician with Natural Kid Doc in Scottsdale. Dr. Smialek is a specialist in the field of naturopathic pediatrics and is the only practicing board certified naturopathic pediatrician in Arizona.

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