11 Immune Boosting Foods To Get You Through Cold and Flu Season
Mushrooms are rich in the the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, both of which are required for a healthy immune system. They are also are high in the mineral selenium, which is important because low levels increase your risk of becoming severely ill if you do contract the flu. One study also found that participants who increased their intake of shiitake mushrooms experienced a significant increase in immune-boosting T-Cells and a reduction in inflammatory proteins. Finally, some mushrooms also contain complex carbohydrates called polysaccharides, which have been found to enhance immune system function.
Only one three ounce serving of Pacific oysters will offer you nearly twice your daily value of selenium, half your daily value of iron, and a fifth of your daily value of vitamin C! You'll also get a dose of immune-boosting zinc, which can help create and power up your white blood cells as well as stimulate wound healing.
The beneficial bacteria found in active cultured yogurt can help fight disease by improving your gut health, since having more good bacteria in your gut can keep the bad guys from invading and making you sick. Studies have found that consumption of certain strains of these bacteria reduced the incidence of the common cold in a group of elderly patients, while another found that probiotics decreased the incidence of both cold and influenza-like illnesses.The D and B vitamins found in yogurt will also help ensure your immune system stays in tip-top shape. Just make sure to get a plain low-calorie brand rather than a sugar-filled nightmare!
This "superfood" is rich in many nutrients, including well known immune-booster vitamin C and unsung hero folate, which is crucial for recovery from illness since it allows your body to make new cells and repair DNA. It's also full of antioxidants like flavonoids, which studies show may also help prevent colds in healthy people.
Instead of setting yourself up for a blood sugar crash with sugary juices, give yourself a dose of germ-fighting polyphenols and flavonoids with a nice hot cup of tea! Green tea in particular is rich in antibacterial flavonoid epigallocatechin gallate, which has been proven to help prevent disease by lowering inflammation.Other good options include ginseng tea, which has been shown to help treat the symptoms of colds and influenza, ginger tea, which may fight nausea and reduce inflammation, and turmeric tea, which may help activate your disease-fighting T-cells. As a bonus, all three also made it onto our list of great herbs and spices for weight loss!
Broccoli contains a compound called 3,3'-diindolylmethane that has been shown to increase levels of germ-fighting cytokines in mice, and these mice were also found to be more resistant to reoviruses. Another chemical in broccoli, sulforaphane, has been found to promote the production of certain enzymes in some immune cells. Broccoli also contains plenty of B vitamins and as much vitamin C as an orange in a one cup serving!
Good old garlic is for more than just flavor! Consuming garlic may also reduce your risk of getting a cold and help you recover faster if you do get sick. Garlic's antibacterial properties, antioxidant properties, and high nutrient content are sure to help you stay healthy as well.
8. Chicken Soup
This cold remedy is probably one you've heard of before, but it turns out that the science backs it up! One study found that chicken soup inhibited the migration of neutrophils, which are one of the chief causes of excess mucus production, and hot fluids have also been shown to help relieve nasal congestion.Another chemical found in chicken soup, called carnosine, has been shown to help fight the flu virus, and the hefty dose of Vitamin B6 found in chicken won't hurt either. Just remember to make your own soup from scratch and throw in plenty of fresh veggies instead of relying on a canned version likely to contain harmful ingredients.
9. Citrus Fruits
Since Vitamin C, which is abundant in citrus fruits, increases the production of germ-fighting white blood cells, it's a cold's worst nightmare. Studies have consistently found that Vitamin C can reduce the duration of a cold, and some evidence suggests it can help prevent them as well.Oranges have the highest amount of vitamin C at around 70 milligrams, while grapefruits are pretty close behind since a half-fruit serving contains 40 milligrams. Lemons contain about 30 mg of Vitamin C, and a lime's got 19.5! Also, though a tomato isn't technically a citrus fruit, it's pretty high in Vitamin C as well, with 24.7 mg in a one cup serving!
Blueberries are full of healthy flavonoids like anthocyanins, which have antioxidant properties that have been found to decrease the incidence of colds. Blueberries also contain stilbenoids like pterostilbene and resveratol, which can foster enhancement of the immune response by increasing the expression of the CAMP gene.
11. Oily Fish
Oily fish like salmon, tuna, and pilchards are high in omega-3 fatty acids, which can help combat inflammatory symptoms. Tuna and salmon are also both high in zinc, which has been shown to reduce the severity and duration of cold symptoms. Try our Salmon And Avocado Stuffed Tomatoes and you'll get a dose of Vitamin C, healthy fat, and mineral-y mushrooms as well!