Cold and flu season hits us hard when we’re unprepared. Adding more immune-boosting foods to our diet helps us fight off those coughs and sniffles. Learn more about the powerful effects of some of our favorite foods below.
Ward off vampires as well as colds with this pungent yet powerful bulb. Certain compounds in garlic may have antiviral activity and block viral particles from entering cells. Additionally, aged garlic extract can help decrease the severity of a cold or flu. Although many recipes include garlic, if you don’t have a lot of time to cook, you can find supplements.
Another vegetable we can use in our fight against cold and flu season is the onion. Onions are a good source of vitamin C, an immune- supporting nutrient. Also, red onions contain quercetin, which has been found to boost the immune system.
There are many strains of probiotics, but only certain ones have therapeutic potential against health concerns, such as allergies and viral infections. One probiotic, L. acidophilus, has been researched extensively and been found to regulate the immune system. L. acidophilus can be found in yogurt. Just remember to keep an eye on the sugar content if you purchase store-bought yogurt.
If you aren’t in the mood for some yogurt and instead want something savory or spicy, pickled cabbage also contains L. acidophilus. Pickled cabbage comes in many forms, including kimchi and sauerkraut.
Elderberries are tiny, blue-black, and extremely powerful. They contain bioactive compounds that fight against disease and possess antioxidants that counteract oxidative stress. Elderberry supplements are also used to support the immune systems against respiratory illness. You can find the supplement in a pill, lozenge, or liquid, but you can also make your own tea or syrup.
It’s said there are approximately 2,700 species of edible mushrooms. One of the most common, shiitake, is native to East Asia and used throughout a variety of dishes and medicines. They have a significant number of antioxidants and reduce cholesterol levels. They also improve immunity and reduce inflammation. Shiitake mushrooms are great in soup, salad, and stir-fry.
Did you know oysters clean polluted waters? They can filter up to 50 gallons of water per day by pulling harmful nitrogen out of the water. Not only do they protect our waters, but they also protect our immune systems. Oysters are incredibly high in a crucial mineral, zinc. Zinc is considered the gateway of the immune system, and virtually every immune cell is highly dependent on zinc.
Whether you drink green or black, tea is another immune-boosting favorite. That’s because it can enhance your innate immune response, which creates a barrier to protect cells against absorbing harmful materials, like viruses. It doesn’t matter if you drink decaf or caffeinated tea either since both have the same effect.
Sweet potato’s vibrant, orange-colored flesh lands it on our immune-boosting food list. Sweet potatoes have beta carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is an important mineral that helps regulate our immune system.
Fatty fish, such as sardines or salmon, boost immunity because they contain vitamin D, which many of us are deficient in these days. Vitamin D supports the immune system in many ways, including enhancing the innate, as well as adaptive, immune response. The adaptive immune response involves the stimulation and regulation of white blood cells and supports the immune system.
Pomegranate is a fruit with a thick red peel on the outside and maroon-colored seeds on the inside. The seeds taste a little tangy and a little sweet and are filled with tannins. Those tannins have an antiviral effect and play an important part in immune support.
Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane holds a significant role in repressing the inflammatory response. This compound also triggers the antioxidant response, which decreases the chances of bacteria surviving in the body.
A summer staple at the farmer’s market, blueberries are yet another delicious food that boosts immunity. Blueberries contain stilbenoid compounds. These compounds could potentially protect the body against several diseases. They have also been shown to boost the innate immune response.
The same stilbenoid compounds responsible for some of the immune-supporting effects of blueberries are found in red grapes. The grape’s outer skin contains those compounds, resveratrol and pterostilbene, which have strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Spinach has a lot of disease-fighting ability and puts up a good defense against viruses. Some of the vitamins and minerals that make up spinach, such as vitamin E, folate, magnesium, and vitamin A, boost our immune systems.