As winter falls upon us, our immune systems might be a bit weaker, leaving us susceptible to cold and flu infection. While your annual flu vaccine is your best defense against this seasonal virus, you should also eat nutrient-rich foods to ensure your immune system is functioning at its best.
The following are some of the best foods to eat when fending off symptoms of the cold and flu.
1. Raw garlic
The allicin found in garlic has powerful anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties, which can help keep viruses and bacteria from replicating in your bodies. Research studies have shown that people taking garlic supplements experienced fewer and less severe colds compared to those taking a placebo.
To get the most out of garlic’s flu-fighting properties, it’s best to chew a raw clove every three or four hours. If you can’t bear the taste, try cutting cloves into pieces and swallowing them down like pills. You can even add garlic to your soups.
Like garlic, onions also contain the antimicrobial compounds Allicin. Therefore, eating raw onions offers the same benefits as eating raw garlic. Also, onions are a good source of quercetin which helps fight off the flu virus. It is best to consume onions raw, however they can still be effective when added into meals.
Carrots are an excellence source of beta-carotene. This compound is converted to vitamin A in the body, which aids vision and helps maintain a strong immune system. It is the perfect flu-fighting food because you can add it to soup, curry, or stew it for an added nutrient boost.
4. Citrus fruits
A 2006 Japanese study published in the “European Journal of Clinical Nutrition” showed the risk of contracting three or more colds over a five-year period was reduced by more than 60% when subjects ingested 500 mg of vitamin C per day.
Like citrus fruit, cranberries are also a good source of vitamin C and the flavonoid quercetin that may give the immune system a big boost.
In one preliminary study, researchers found cranberry juice significantly increased the cells responsible for defending the body against viral invaders in participants who drank it daily. During the study, the cranberry juice drinkers reported fewer cold and flu symptoms than those who didn’t drink the juice.
All teas – black, white, or green – contain a group of antioxidants known as catechins, which may have flu-fighting properties. However, green tea has more catechins than other teas which make it the better choice to treat flu.
In a 2011 Japanese study, people who took catechin capsules for five months had 75 percent lower odds of catching the flu than people taking a placebo.
7. Raw honey
Raw honey has been used since the ancient times to treat common colds and flu. In addition to having antioxidant and antibacterial properties to help fight viruses, honey also helps to coat the throat and provide a relief. Use it to sweeten tea and you get double the benefits as tea is also a good cold and flu-fighter.
8. Chicken soup
Chicken soup is an excellent source of the compound carnosine. Preliminary studies have found that carnosine has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may stave off viral infections such as the flu by stopping it from spreading inside cells. The warm broth of this soup may also help loosen mucus to ease congestion and alleviate sore throat.
9. Dark leafy greens
Dark leafy greens, like kale, spinach, and arugula, are also great sources of the cold-fighting properties like Vitamins A, C and K which helps boost your immune system and therefore they could fight viruses that cause flu.
Try to consume a teaspoon of spices every day to help ward off the flu. You can mix some cinnamon into your porridge or oatmeal, or brew them in a tea.