It’s always a good time to boost your immune system, but it’s especially true now. Even if you have been fortunate enough to escape illness this season, there is surely a co-worker, friend, or family member in near proximity who is averaging a tissue box a day. To lower your risks of succumbing to seasonal flu, incorporate these vegan-friendly foods into your daily diet for an added boost to your immune system. 

1. Oranges
Is it a happy coincidence or nature’s design that this cold-fighting fruit peaks during the winter months? Oranges are packed with vitamin C—and while some evidence contests the positive association between high vitamin C intake and reduced illness, a daily boost of vitamin C doesn’t hurt to keep the runny nose at bay.

2. Chili peppers
Get the mucus moving with a spicy shock to your body. This food can make your eyes water and your mouth salivate which helps to break up congestion and relieve sinuses. Foods like wasabi can have a similar effect. In lieu of eating a whole pepper, we suggest getting liberal with the hot sauce and dipping vegan sushi in a soy-sauce-and-wasabi mixture.

3. Smoothies 
Sip down a vitamin-C-and-antioxidant-rich smoothie to cast away colds. Antioxidants help fight free radicals in the body that damage cells and potentially weaken your immune system. Make your own favorite blend or try a store-bought version such as Bolthouse Farms C-Boost. Mixed with antioxidant-packed cherries and tons of vitamin C from sweet mangoes, this blend is made to ward off the winter cough. 

4. Garlic
Blend raw garlic into a salad dressing or sprinkle crushed garlic on pizza for an immunity-boosting meal. When consumed raw, a compound called allicin is released and has been noted to fight infections and support healthy white blood cells. The next time your breath smells like garlic, be proud—it’s a sign of health! 

5. Turmeric and black pepper
This one-two-punch of spices delivers serious anti-inflammatory benefits to reduce the risk of sickness (or relieve pain if you’re already under the weather). While turmeric technically does all the work, the active ingredient—curcumin—is not readily absorbed by the body unless it is combined with black pepper. Thankfully, it only takes a pinch to experience the effects. Flavor your tofu scrambles and stir-frys with this spice combination to build a tasty defense against the flu. 

Tanya Flink is a Digital Editor at VegNews as well as a writer and runner living in Orange County, CA.

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