Prior to attending college, health and cleanliness were two things I took very seriously. I mean, there’s a running joke in my house that I am always prepared to perform surgery because of how often I wash my hands. However, living in a petri dish aka a dorm for the first time was an incredibly eye-opening experience, especially this winter.

After living away from home for more than one semester, I have learned that germs rarely stay contained, especially during the winter. Without the luxury of my own bathroom (shout out to my girls on the third floor), and the knowledge of who is handling my food, the susceptibility of getting sick only increases.

And thus, the plague begins.

While there is only so much you can do to prevent illness, there are some foods that are known to boost immunity.

Here are 10 foods to feast on, so you can avoid being part of your campus’s epidemic.

1. Citrus

This one is typically a given, but I thought I would reiterate. Fruits, such as oranges, grapefruits, clementines and tangerines have high levels of vitamin C—one of the most well-known immunity boosters and wound healers.

Because our bodies cannot produce this vitamin on its own, we must obtain it through the food we eat. While some studies suggest that vitamin C does not have a significant effect on the common cold, it can shorten the duration of one.

So, what’s the harm? Not only is vitamin C an antioxidant that protects against harmful compounds in response to infections, but it also helps fight damaging-free radicals.

lime, juice, citrus, lemon
Photo courtesy of Bored Panda

Not a citrus fan? Opt for bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, or my personal favorite, kiwis.

2. Chicken soup

I just thought I would give my grandmother some major kudos for always providing me with what seemed like an endless supply of “Jewish penicillin” whenever I visited her house.

Chicken soup is a delicious elixir, packed with amino acids like glycine, arginine and proline—all of which have anti-inflammatory effects on the body.

And while chicken soup may not play a major role in preventing illness, it can alleviate it. Chicken contains cysteine, an amino acid that helps thin the mucus in the lungs. The hot broth of the soup fights throat inflammation, and causes the nose’s blood vessels to dilate. This reduces congestion, making it easier to breathe.

Plus, chicken soup tastes bomb.

3. Yogurt

Before you need to head over to the doctor’s office for antibiotics, why not go for some probiotics instead? The live active cultures aka the “healthy bacteria” found in yogurt keep your intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Yogurt also has a source of vitamin D, which regulates the immune system.

So, toss in some of your favorite berries and granola and you will have an immunity-boosting, healthy snack.

raspberry, chocolate
Anwen Herbert-Lewis

4. Nuts

Nuts, like almonds, peanuts, cashews and brazil nuts are chock full of vitamins and antioxidants. They contain vitamin E, zinc, selenium, copper, as well as other nutrients that play a vital role in maintaining a healthy immune system. They are also a great source of antioxidants, fiber and healthy fat.

pistachio, nut, almond
Hailey Maher

Pass the trail mix.

5. Oats

cereal, wheat, corn
Christin Urso

Just like nuts, oats are packed with selenium and zinc, which ward off infection. Selenium regulates the immune system’s response, while zinc plays a crucial role in the growth and functioning of cells that recognize invading pathogens and destroy bacteria, viruses and toxins.

Want to tell the germs to take a hike? Whip up some oatmeal, munch on a granola bar or create your own recipe to satisfy your oat fix.

6. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes may be known for their positive effects on your skin, but that doesn’t mean they can’t help prevent sickness. It is important to note that your skin is a crucial organ that serves as a barrier between you and bacteria, viruses and other things you do not want in your body.

sweet potato, sweet, vegetable, potato, carrot
Spoon University

This orange superfood is rich in vitamin A, which is essential for fighting against diseases. Sweet potatoes are also packed with beta carotene, which is believed to increase T-cell (cells that help fight infection) activity in the body.

7. Spinach

Mom and dad always said to eat your spinach for a reason. This green, leafy veggie is high in vitamin C, folic acid and has more potassium that a cup of sliced bananas. Like sweet potatoes, spinach also contains beta carotene.

spinach, vegetable, salad, lettuce, basil, relish, herb
Kristine Mahan

8. Garlic

Vampires are not the only thing that this vegetable bulb wards off. Because of its antiviral and antibacterial properties, as well as its richness in sulfuric compounds, garlic helps keep the germs away, too.

garlic, vegetable
Kristine Mahan

Garlic bread, anyone?

9. Berries

Not only do they smell of summer, but berries are also rich in antioxidants, vitamin E and C.

Blueberries are revered for being an antioxidant and phytonutrient powerhouse, which means that they aid in neutralizing free radical damage done to our cells. Strawberries contain phenols, as well, which are antioxidant phytonutrients responsible for protecting us against disease.

blackberry, strawberry, blueberry, sweet, raspberry, berry
Hannah Lin

Feeling trendy? Go for some açai berries, which were traditionally used as a healing fruit in the Amazon rainforests many years ago.

10. Green tea

The antioxidants found in green tea are beneficial, as they strengthen the immune system and protect against damage from free radicals. The caffeine has also been shown to improve physical performance by keeping you energized.

So, grab a book, squeeze in some lemon and honey and your night will be off to a relaxing, yet reviving start.

green tea, tea

And while winter may be coming to a close, that doesn't mean you can't still chow down on these health-packed munchies.