Grandmothers and mothers have insisted on kids bundling up in cold weather for centuries, and with good reason. The chilly winter months can give the body’s immune system a run for its money. Designed to be a powerful, bug-fighting machine, our immune system uses cells to defeat viruses before they can negatively affect us. 

Some people scoff at the notion that colder weather is to blame for the onslaught of sickness in the wintertime, but—like it or not—influenza and similar viruses tend to spike as the temperatures drop outside. Our immune systems must work harder during the wintertime, so why not do whatever we can to help them win the fight?

Eating the right foods and snacks can help strengthen our immunity. While no one food delivers a magical guarantee that it will prevent you from getting sick, the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health explains: “Eating enough nutrients as part of a varied diet is required for the health and function of all cells, including immune cells.” 

The human body requires the presence of many micronutrients to sustain a strong immune response. Nutrients from foods containing vitamin C, vitamin D, zinc, selenium, iron, and protein found in an assortment of foods from plants and animals are an important part of staying healthy. When our diets lack nutrients, the production and activity of immune cells and antibodies become impaired—putting us at risk of getting sick.