What foods boost your immune system in winter?

Winter holds a bit of magic and, often, a lot of slush. The magic?  Snow, sledding, ice skating, holiday shopping, cherished family traditions, delightful treats. The slush? Shoveling, soggy feet, sniffles, and the flu season. ‘Tis the season can wreak havoc on our immune systems, thanks to the stresses of the holidays, indulgent diets, year-end work pressures, family obligations, and financial commitments. Many find themselves making frequent trips to the pharmacy for cold pills and prescription medications.

While many of our patients fret about holiday weight gain, it’s crucial to recognize a more pressing issue: how our dietary choices can compromise our immune systems. Balancing nourishment to fend off extra pounds is a challenge, but safeguarding against germs and minimizing doctor visits is even more vital.

While there’s no foolproof defense against the winter germs that abound, a robust immune system can be your shield. Investing in healthy eating is your ticket to saving on prescriptions this winter.

With that in mind, here are 5 tips to fortify your immune system during the winter months:


  • Don’t underestimate the power of frozen fruits and veggies. There’s a common misconception that freezing diminishes their nutritional value, but let’s give these frozen gems the credit they deserve. The nutrients and minerals found in fruits and vegetables remain intact, whether fresh or frozen. Extensive research has shown negligible differences between fresh and frozen varieties of corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries, and blueberries. So go ahead and stock up on those frozen berries for your oatmeal or cereal. Embrace winter delights like cabbage, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and spinach to enjoy an antioxidant-rich, Vitamin C-packed, and beta-carotene-boosting diet.
  • Boost your system with zinc: Zinc plays a pivotal role in warding off infections. To fortify your body’s defenses, include zinc-rich foods like fish, unprocessed grains, poultry, eggs, and milk in your diet.
  • Gut Health is Whole-Body Health: Maintaining a healthy balance of gut bacteria is essential for overall well-being. Prebiotics and probiotics are instrumental in combatting allergies, addressing irritable bowel syndrome, and improving gastrointestinal health. While supplements are available, you can likely meet your needs by incorporating these essential foods into your diet. (However, a supplemental dose of probiotics is advisable following antibiotic use.)
  • Embrace the Sun: Vitamin D is a vital piece of mental well-being. During winter’s brief and sun-deprived days, it’s easy to develop that pale, vampire-like complexion and mood. Reduced Vitamin D levels can lower serotonin levels and increase the risk of winter depression, often leading to unhealthy eating habits.  (Also, Vitamin D helps with the absorption of calcium, which is key for bone health.) To counter those doldrums and gray winter days, strive for at least twenty minutes of daily sunlight exposure. Take a midday break to bask in the sun or reposition your desk to catch those rays. Do whatever it takes to soak up some sunshine. If necessary, consult your healthcare provider about Vitamin D supplements to ensure you’re getting the necessary dose.
  • Drink Smart: Winter’s warm beverages can be irresistible, but enjoy them without overindulging. Opt for low-sugar hot chocolate without whipped cream, or savor the warmth of herbal and green teas that offer coziness without extra calories and sugar. Explore delightful winter flavors like apple cinnamon, orange spice, and chai to keep that holiday spirit alive.
  • For heart health, choose low-salt options when you can. Give canned vegetables a good rinse. Be party-smart by selecting one must-have holiday treat to savor, and balance it with a selection of vegetables, fruits, and healthier options to keep your calorie, sugar, salt, and fat intake in check.


These modifications to your winter eating habits can help you avoid both extra pounds and frequent doctor visits. Sustain healthy eating during the winter months with these easy-to-follow tips. This might be your key to warding off both germs and unwanted weight gain.


Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetable Soup


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes, diced
  • 1 cup kale or spinach, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • Salt and pepper to taste



  1. Place the chicken pieces, chicken broth, and water into your slow cooker.
  2. Add in the chopped carrots, celery, onions, and minced garlic.
  3. Stir in the diced sweet potatoes and ginger.
  4. Sprinkle the turmeric, thyme, rosemary, salt, and pepper over the ingredients.
  5. Cover the slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 3-4 hours, or until the chicken is cooked through and the vegetables are tender.
  6. About 30 minutes before serving, add the chopped kale or spinach to the slow cooker. This ensures they stay vibrant and don’t become overly wilted.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning as needed, adding more salt and pepper if desired.
  8. Serve hot and enjoy your immune-boosting, nutritious chicken and vegetable soup!


This soup is not only rich in immune-boosting nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants from the vegetables but also contains anti-inflammatory ingredients like ginger and turmeric. It’s a comforting and healthy option for staying warm and well during the winter season.