Avoid The Flu This Season: Foods That Boost Your Immune System
Flu season is in full effect and I don’t know about you but there’s nothing I hate more than being sick. Lucky for us there are a few super foods that can help boost the immune system. Add these foods to your diet to help avoid the flu this season.
- Garlic. This potent member of the onion family is a powerful immune booster. It stimulates the production and enhances the activity of infection-fighting white blood cells. Garlic also acts as an antioxidant, reducing the build-up of free radicals in the bloodstream. Increase your intake of garlic by adding it to sautéed vegetables, meats and beans.
- Fish and seafood. Shellfish such as oysters, lobster, clams, shrimp and crab are good sources of selenium which helps white blood cells clear flu viruses out of the body. Oysters and crab are also good sources of zinc which increases the production of white blood cells and helps them to fight more aggressively. Salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation in the body. This can help increase airflow and protect the lungs from colds and respiratory infections. Omega-3 fats also act as immune boosters by increasing the activity of phagocytes (the white blood cells that eat up bacteria). Be sure to include at least 2 servings of fish per week to reap its immune boosting benefits.
- Hot Tea. Tea is soothing and helps to thin mucus and ensure proper hydration. Sip green or black tea for added health benefits as both are filled with flavonoids which are potent antioxidants. Replace your morning coffee with tea to fight the flu.
- Sweet Potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamin A which helps regulate the immune system. Vitamin A also protects you from infections by keeping your skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory tract healthy. Include sweet potatoes and other vitamin A rich foods such as pumpkin, squash, cantaloupe and carrots in your daily diet to strengthen your immune system.
- Mushrooms. It has been shown that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive in fighting off infection. Shitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms appear to have the strongest immune-boosting abilities. Add mushrooms to tomato sauce, a vegetable omelet or a chicken and vegetable stir fry.
- Citrus Fruits. Citrus fruits are rich in Vitamin C which is a potent antioxidant and is important for immune function. Vitamin C protects the body from infection by stimulating the formation of antibodies and boosting immunity. Those who include vitamin C rich foods in their diet on a daily basis may have slightly shorter colds and somewhat milder symptoms. Consume a variety of fruits and vegetables to receive adequate amounts of vitamin C.
- Ginger. Ginger is a strong antioxidant that kills bacteria and cold viruses, helps eliminate congestion and inhibits the production of cytokines which cause pain and swelling. Add ginger to sautéed vegetables, tea or combine with water and lemon juice or honey to make ginger lemonade.
- Honey. As honey coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial (kills bacteria) properties to help fight infection. Drizzle honey on whole wheat toast, tea, yogurt or oatmeal.
- Nuts and Seeds. Nuts and seeds are rich in Vitamin E which is an important antioxidant and immune booster. Vitamin E enhances the production of immune cells that produce antibodies that destroy bacteria. Add nuts and seeds to salads and oatmeal or combine with dried fruit for an immune boosting snack.
Good nutrition is essential for building a strong immune system and powerful defense to illness. Even the slightest deficiency of any one nutrient can make a difference in your body’s ability to fight infection. Consuming a varied, healthy diet on a daily basis can help prevent disease and keep you feeling great this season.
This Week’s Recipe: Chicken Soup
Mamma was right! Nothing fends off the sniffles better than good old chicken soup. Try this Paleo friendly recipe full of immune boosting ingredients the next time you’re feeling under the weather.
- 3 chicken breasts
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 4 stalks celery
- 3 carrots
- 1 large onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 parsnips
- 1 head broccoli
- 8-10 cups homemade chicken broth (or low sodium chicken broth)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- Dice chicken into 1 inch cubes and sauté in a soup pot with butter until browned. Remove from pot and set aside
- Chop all vegetables and garlic and place in same pot. Add chicken broth and bring to a simmer. Let simmer for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are mostly cooked
- Return chicken to pot and season with salt and pepper and continue to let simmer until full cooked through, about 5 minutes.