Flu season is just around the corner, and no one wants to get stuck in bed with the sniffles. You can get a flu shot and take all the cold medicines under the sun, but nothing fights off sickness better than keeping up your overall health, and the best way to stay healthy is through a nutritious diet. Filling your body up with the right nutrients and minerals can make all the difference in the strength of your immune system.
It may seem obvious to load up on your orange juice and greens to increase your vitamin C, but there are a variety of other foods that help strengthen your body’s resilience and response to foreign intruders. The more your body is armed with the proper nutrients, the better it can fight back against viruses and bacteria.
To avoid getting sick come winter, try eating these immune-boosting foods to keep your body in tip-top shape.
Mushrooms have been used for centuries to ward off sickness and disease — and for good reason. These nutritious fungi are filled with the mineral selenium, and low levels of selenium have been linked to a weaker immune system and greater chance of getting the flu. Mushrooms also contain an assortment of B vitamins, which play a large role in fighting off illness.
Almonds are rich in vitamin E, an important nutrient for a healthy immune system. These healthful nuts also contain manganese, which helps fight off infections. Eat raw almonds or almond butter daily to receive their beneficial effects.
Dating back thousand of years, garlic has been used to prevent disease and sickness, including the common cold. In one study, those who took a daily a garlic supplement were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold than those who didn’t take the supplement, and they also recovered from their sickness much more quickly. Garlic is rich in antioxidants and contains compounds that are antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory.
Tea is not only hydrating, but it contains the amino acid L-theanine, which helps increase your immune system’s response to sickness. Black and green tea both contain L-theanine along with flavonoids, a type of antioxidant that protects the immune system. A Harvard study found that the immune system cells of those who drank tea daily responded five times better than those who didn’t drink the beverage.
Packed with vitamins and minerals, broccoli fights off sickness with its abundance of antioxidants, vitamins A, C, and E, and sulforaphane, a chemical in broccoli that switches on antioxidant genes and enzymes in specific immune cells. This cruciferous vegetable also contains potassium, calcium, and magnesium, all essential nutrients for optimal health.
Ginger wards off illness in an abundance of ways, including acting as an anti-inflammatory, fighting off viruses, and naturally reducing pain and fever. Ginger contains sesquiterpenes, a compound that inhibits the rhinovirus, the cause of the common cold. You can eat ginger raw or brew it in tea to receive its healing powers.
Oats contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that helps your kickstart your body’s white blood cell response to bacteria, viruses, and other infections. Try to avoid flavored oatmeals that contain sugar, which can actually hurt your body’s response to illness.
Not only is a warm bowl of chicken soup comforting when you’re feeling under the weather, it also helps clear congestion and keeps you hydrated. Chicken soup has anti-inflammatory effects that help ease cold and flu symptoms, and this hearty broth also contains the amino acid cysteine, which helps clear mucus.