We are a few weeks into the back to school season and with that comes new routines, new classpicturees and activities, and unfortunately, new germs. If you’re like many of us, your immune system gets a shock as much as you do when your alarm goes off Monday morning. Here are some tips on how to stay healthy during this transition time so you can start your school year off on the right foot!

Did you know there’s a direct relationship between the health of your gut and your overall immune system? Approximately 70-80% of our immune tissue is found in our digestive system. That means our diet plays a direct role in how well our bodies fight off unwanted germs in our bodies.  A diet that emphasizes whole, unprocessed foods and promotes healthy bacteria is crucial to maintaining a healthy immune system.  Here are some of our favorite “germ fighting” foods and easy ways to incorporate them into your diet.

Dark leafy greens: (kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, spinach etc.) are the most nutrient dense foods out there- meaning they have more nutrients per calorie than any other food. Not only are they full of Vitamin C, a well-known immune booster, but they also contain folate and vitamin E. You should be eating dark leafy greens with every meal, every day (that’s how good they are for you!). Blend them in a smoothie for breakfast, add chopped dark leafy greens to your salad for lunch, and sauté dark leafy greens for dinner.

Garlic: is a great immune booster because it can actually increase the number of virus fighting T-cells in our blood. Another bonus? Garlic can help our adrenal glands produce fewer stress hormones. It’s no coincidence that we tend to get sick easier when we are stressed. Add garlic to everything to help combat colds and stress. Soups, salad dressings, and even smoothies can be enhanced with garlic. Chop garlic at the beginning of your prep work- letting it sit for 10-15 minutes before cooking can enhance the health-promoting properties.

Fermented foods: (Sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt, miso, kimchi, kefir, etc.) are full of healthy bacteria that can help boost the immune system.  In fact, eating fermented foods can increase the amount of antibodies in our gut which are needed to fight off unwanted germs. A healthy gut equals a strong immune system! Easy ways to incorporate more fermented foods in your diet include adding miso to your veggie or chicken broth, blending some kefir into your morning green smoothie, topping sandwiches with sauerkraut or kimchi, and enjoying a glass of kombucha for your afternoon pick me up.

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*All information associated with Whole Foods monthly content is sponsored by Whole Foods as a partnership with University of Denver Athletics & Recreation, and not provided by trainers or staff of the Coors Fitness Center.