January: The month where mentally debilitating seasonal depression collides with physically debilitating temperatures. But if the dark days and cold nights aren’t enough of a downer, remember that it’s also cold and flu season.
Abrupt changes in temperature (chilly nights and the occasional still-warm days) seem to throw our immune systems out of whack, and in colder weather we spend more time indoors, increasing our chances of catching a virus from a sniffling family member or coworker. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that as many as one in five Americans fall victim to the flu each year, while the number of colds suffered annually in the U.S. could be greater than a billion — an average of more than three for every man, woman, and child in the country.
Unfortunately, there is no cure for the common cold. Over-the-counter remedies attack specific cold and flu symptoms like respiratory congestion or a raspy cough, but no medicine has been found to consistently do the trick. Some medications, such as decongestants, even raise the risk of heart attacks for people with high blood pressure.
That’s why, when possible, it’s better to take a natural healing approach to the cold and flu. Wholesome foods such as berries, carrots, and garlic provide the body with important vitamins and micronutrients that fortify the immune system, enabling it to more aptly respond to a cold or flu.
Equip your body with the tools to defend itself against the worst this winter has to offer by stocking your refrigerator and pantry with these 12 healthy, everyday foods.