As the temperatures are beginning to drop, the familiar sounds of coughs and sneezes will soon surround us. In order to protect ourselves from catching these nasty colds and flus, make sure to maintain a well-balanced diet for optimal health. To give our immune systems a boost, add any of these 5 Flu-Fighting Foods to your meals.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger roots contain aromatic compounds that are anti-rhinoviral. In other words, these compounds are effective at killing rhinovirus, the viral agent that predominantly causes the common cold. Ginger also produces a natural warming effect on the body and is considered to be a digestive aid for an upset stomach.
- Garlic: Similar to ginger, garlic contains compounds that have antibacterial, antifungal, and antiviral properties. This is due to the compounds in garlic, which boost the immunity response of white blood cells in our blood, and has been shown to reduce the severity of cold and flu-like symptoms.
- Honey: Due to its antimicrobial properties, honey is often used as a home remedy for soothing sore throats and suppressing coughs. Studies have suggested that ingesting as little as 2 teaspoons can reduce nighttime coughing as effectively as another common cough suppressant ingredient, dextromethorphan. 1, 2, 3
- Turmeric: In recent years, turmeric has gained widespread popularity for its medicinal properties. Turmeric contains curcumin, which is an anti-inflammatory compound that can boost immunity. Due to the poor bioavailability and absorption of turmeric when ingested by itself, add a dash of black pepper when using it. This will increase the bioavailability and absorption rate by 2000%.4
- Meat: While this may come as a surprise, eating approximately 6-ounces of beef can boost your body’s immune-fighting response. This is because meat is a great source of zinc, which is a necessary nutrient for white blood cells to function adequately in the body. Research has shown that zinc deficiencies are positively associated with lower immune response.5
As a general rule of thumb, adequate hydration and nutrition will help you avoid catching the flu.
While consuming these 5 flu-fighting foods on a regular basis as a good first line of defense, remember to maintain an overall healthy diet and lifestyle. And get as much sleep as needed.
Enjoy this recipe that has garlic, ginger, and turmeric in it: Crockpot Garbanzo Bean & Vegetable Curry Stew
It’s vegan but you can always add ground beef to it for extra immune-supporting nutrients.
Alexa Tiletile, Dietetic Intern
- Goldman, Ran D. Honey for treatment of cough in children. Canadian family physician Medecin de famille canadien, vol. 60,12 (2014): 1107-8, 1110.
- Shadkam, M. N., et al. A Comparison of the Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and Diphenhydramine on Nightly Cough and Sleep Quality in Children and Their Parents. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, vol. 16,7, (2010): 787–793, doi:10.1089/acm.2009.0311.
- Stockman, J.a. Effect of Honey, Dextromethorphan, and No Treatment on Nocturnal Cough and Sleep Quality for Coughing Children and Their Parents. Yearbook of Pediatrics, vol. 2009 (2009): 580–583, doi:10.1016/s0084-3954(08)79021-3.
- Prasad, Sahdeo et al. Recent developments in delivery, bioavailability, absorption and metabolism of curcumin: the golden pigment from golden spice. Cancer research and treatment: official journal of Korean Cancer Association, vol. 46,1 (2014): 2-18. doi:10.4143/crt.2014.46.1.2.
- Carmen P. Wong, Nicole A. Rinaldi, Emily Ho. Zinc deficiency enhanced inflammatory response by increasing immune cell activation and inducing IL6 promoter demethylation. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, (2015): doi: 1002/mnfr.201400761