Is cold and flu season taking down your family? Colds are common this time of year, but you don’t have to suffer long. Add these cold and flu-fighting foods to your diet to help reduce your symptoms and fight off illness sooner.

The arrival of colder weather often brings forth the need for tissues and trips to your family physician. You might feel extra tired, out of sorts, and frankly moving off the couch is enough exercise for the day.

What we fail to remember is that food provides an effective natural boost to both mood and health. Instead of blaming our lack of time or winter’s early darkness, prep yourself with strategies to fit in healthy eating when our bodies need it the most.

Here are a few foods to jumpstart your immune system and fight off any cold this winter.

Oranges and Citrus

Along with being an excellent source of vitamin C, oranges and other citrus contain antioxidants that help to support a healthy immune system. Try this Orange Chicken Stir-fry or these Citrus Shrimp Tacos for a tasty dinner.

Beans

Beans are packed with zinc, a nutrient that protects and supports our bodies against viruses. Cook them into a soup, like this Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup or mash for these Sweet Potato & Black Bean Quesadillas.

Garlic

Garlic has long been used for its medicinal properties and its immune boosting function can help shorten the length of cold symptoms. Add garlic to your chicken noodle soup or serve up these Garlic Roasted Potatoes.

Leafy Green Vegetables

Leafy greens contain many essential nutrients your body needs to support a healthy immune system, including vitamins A, K and C. Blend them into a smoothie, stir into a soup or toss together a healthy salad.

Water

All our cells need water to function properly and to transport nutrients so staying hydrated is an extra way to help your body fight off the flu as efficiently as possible. Check out these 5 Fruit-Flavored Water Ideas to stay hydrated.

Red Meat

Red meat, such as beef, is rich in glutamine, an amino acid that supports your body’s ability to fight off infection faster. Check out one of these recipes tonight: Italian Beef Skillet, Gluten-Free Italian Meatloaf Muffins or Kid-Friendly Beef Bolognese.

Honey

Due to its high content of antimicrobial compounds, honey has potent antibacterial effects and evidence suggests that honey can stimulate the immune system. Studies also show that honey can help supress coughs. Remember, honey should not be given to children under 12 months of age.

Ginger

Know for reducing nausea, ginger can also help ease inflamation. Fresh ginger can be added to meals or drinks, or you can grab ginger tea or ginger ale at the store. Just be sure what you grab is made with real ginger or ginger extract for the benefits.

Elderberry

This holistic option had really sprung up in recent years. Elderberry is full of antioxidants called anthocyanins, which helps clear the body of free radicals can can damage cells.

Turmeric

A potent anti-inflammatory, turmeric has also been shown to boost immune cell activity and enhance antibody responses. Sprinkle into a smoothie, soup or on veggies.

Dark Tart Cherries

High in antioxidants, dark tart cherries have been linked to a reduced risk of upper respiratory tract sypmtoms. They also contain natual melatonin, helping aid sleep. While cherries aren’t in season during cold and flu season, you can find them in the freezer section. Add them to oatmeal or blend into a smoothie.

Walnuts

Walnuts contain several nutrients that support the immune system, including vitamin E, vitamin B6, copper and folate. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits. Add crunch to muffins, top off a salad or use in a trail mix.

Soup

There’s nothing like a bowl of chicken noodle soup when you’re sick. Here’s why: The warm soup helps move mucus through your nose and throat to relieve congestion. Soup full of healthy ingredients can also help reduce inflammation while the salt content helps your body retain water and maintain hydration.

Yogurt

Full of probitoics, yogurt can help keep your gut healthy and reduce inflammation to help alleviate cold symptoms. Avoid yogurt with tons of added sugar. Opt for unsweetened versions and lightly sweeten with honey and fresh fruit for a yummy parfait.

Carrots

Beta-carotene in carrots converts into vitamin A, which is key for keeping mucous membranes healthy. Serve raw, steamed, roasted, mashed or added to soups for a healthy boost!

Red Bell Peppers

Did you know red bell peppers have twice the amount of vitamin C as oranges? Sliced them up for snacking or make these Turkey & Kale Quinoa Stuffed Peppers for dinner!

Luckily there are ways to boost your mood and health during the long winter months. Don’t dread the fresh snow. Instead, embrace the cold and refuel yourself and your family with the right foods! Simply knowing you are taking care of yourself can boost your health. Plus, when you eat a healthy diet, your body reaps the benefits.