When you can feel a tickle in the back of your throat or your nose is beginning to run, is it already too late to reduce the risk of catching a cold or the flu? Not at all! The best thing you can do is take action quickly and not wait until you get sick by eating foods that will boost your immune system and beat the bugs before they can really take hold.
Here are the six best immune boosting foods you can eat to fight a cold or the flu:
Medical research has shown that chicken soup supresses the inflammation which causes many cold symptoms. This miracle-in-a-soup-bowl also thins mucous secretions so congestion in the nose, chest and throat will be alleviated too. The addition of noodles and vegetables will increase the healing power of the soup as the carbohydrates will help your energy levels, while the veggies will increase the nutrient levels in the soup, which also boost a struggling immune system.
Try these recipes for a taste of the chicken soup magic:
The powerful antioxidant properties of garlic have been found to be antiviral so can potentially help prevent colds as well as shorten their duration. The oily compound allicin (that gives garlic its distinctive smell) works the cold-fighting magic. And you don’t have to eat garlic in its natural form to see the benefits – garlic supplements such as powder, oil and extracts have the same healing powers. And you don’t have to go crazy with it either – a clove or two a day is enough to keep the doctor away!
Need a hit of garlic? Try these recipes:
If you have memories of your grandmother spooning out honey when you had a sore throat, you’ll be pleased to know that she really knew what she was doing! Studies now show that honey can reduce a cough by coating the throat and soothing the irritation. And in fact, honey is more effective than over-the-counter cough medicines. Buckwheat honey, in particular, is shown to have medicinal qualities. Don’t forget though, that children under 12 months should not eat honey due to the risk of infant botulism.
The Chinese have been swearing by its healing properties for hundreds of years, and now studies support their claims: green tea contains antioxidants that can boost an ailing immune system. Not only do green tea sippers experiences less colds and flu, but their immune systems also produce more cells that fight the bacteria and viruses that cause sickness. Don’t forget though that green tea does contain caffeine, so if you are considering giving it to your kids, go easy with the “green tea medicine” – one cup a day is plenty and they will still feel the benefits.
Strawberries, oranges, tomatoes
While experts still can’t agree on whether taking high doses of vitamin C will have any significant effects on cold and flu symptoms, some studies show that taking vitamin C may actually help prevent the onset of colds and flu. Studies do show, however, that there a health benefits to eating vitamin C rich fruits and vegetables – three or more cups each day (as the body can’t store vitamin C, it is vital that you replenish your supplies every day) will act as a general immune-booster. The trick is to receive the vitamin C via whole foods rather than as a supplement so fill your diet with vitamin C rich foods such as strawberries, oranges, tomatoes and broccoli.
Boost your vitamin C levels with these recipes:
- Five spice lamb and broccolini stirfry
- Fruit with lemon pistachio syrup
- Tomato and cherry kale salad with lemon vinaigrette
Good iron levels are essential for a strong immune system and the most efficient way to maintain good iron levels is by eating lean meat. Not only does it supply a source of iron that is easily absorbed by the body, it also contains good supplies of zinc, another infection-fighting mineral. So if you’re feeling a little sniffly, eating a piece of lean red meat, poultry (chicken soup perhaps?), fish or shellfish will help you fight those bugs.
Build your iron levels with these recipes:
This article was written by Ella Walsh for Kidspot, New Zealand’s best family health resource.