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Our Blog: February 20, 2024

Boost Immunity with Winter Nutrition

It seems like every week someone in our household comes down with a new sniffle or cough. It’s cold and flu season, so it’s a common experience in homes where children and adults go to school or work outside the home.

It’s up to us to give our bodies proper nutrition to help them naturally battle seasonal germs. We do so with intention in our schools and you can contribute by providing smart choices at home too.

At school, you’ll find these immune-boosting lunch options on your child’s Grow Fit menu:

  • Mongolian Beef and Broccoli with Brown Rice and Pineapple
  • Chicken Tikka Masala with Whole Wheat Pita and Cinnamon-Glazed Carrots
  • Chickpea Biryani with Clementine and Broccoli
  • Stuffed Pepper Soup with Whole Grain Corn Bread and Mandarin Oranges
  • Tandoori Chicken with Brown Rice, Winter Squash Soup, and Fresh Apples
  • Chickpea and Cauliflower Curry with Whole Wheat Pita and Fresh Bananas

At home, try incorporating these foods to help prevent illness during cold and flu season:

  • Bananas – This fruit is one of the easiest foods on the digestive system and often remains appealing even when your appetite diminishes due to illness. It contains sugars with antiviral properties and can boost your body’s immune response.
  • Chicken Noodle Soup – Not only does it provide fluids to help fight off viruses, but it’s also a powerful mucus stimulant to help clear nasal passages. You could also just have chicken, beef, and vegetable broth.  
  • Onions – This translucent veggie can be added to many recipes and contains quercetin, a bioflavonoid shown to suppress the common cold. 
  • Shiitake Mushrooms – Researchers have found that this type of mushroom contains a compound called lentinan, which stimulates the immune system.
  • Ginger – Try drinking ginger tea or adding ginger to stir-fry, curries, fish, chicken, or veggie dishes to help keep the sinuses and lungs clear of mucus.
  • Cherries – This sweet, sometimes tart fruit supports good sleep by providing you with a natural source of melatonin. A lack of sleep can weaken your immune system.
  • Yogurt – Look for varieties with live cultures of probiotic bacteria. It supports good gut health and supports the immune system.
  • Cinnamon – To boost your consumption of this cold and flu-fighting spice, add it to your breakfast cereal, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, milk, or tea.
  • Oranges or Grapefruit – These citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C.
  • Milk – Vitamin D has been shown to help prevent infection and reduce the risks of complications as they occur.
  • Broccoli or Spinach – These green veggies provide a boost of vitamin C but also contain other essential nutrients that may benefit your body when you have the flu. If you don’t like either one plain, consider adding it to soups, stir-fry dishes, or omelets. 
About the Author

Nicole Spain, MS, RDN

Childhood nutrition has been Nicole’s passion for more than 20 years. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Illinois University. During her career with Learning Care Group (LCG), Nicole has assisted with developing and implementing the company’s proprietary Grow Fit program. Through her curated menus, the healthy lifestyle initiative positively impacts approximately 100,000 children daily in LCG’s 1,050+ schools. She aided in the rollout of the Veggies Early & Often campaign in 2021 and helped LCG be recognized as the 2017 Partner of the Year by the Partnership for a Healthier America. Since 2004, she’s also been an active Junior League member and developed the Kids in the Kitchen program for their Detroit and Milwaukee chapters. Nicole and her husband, John, have three children. In her spare time, Nicole competes on a rowing team with the Detroit Boat Club Crew.