For some reason, it seems like this year has been off to a particularly rocky start in terms of health. We’ve had a rough flu reason. Every time you stop to shoot the breeze with someone, you hear about another friend or family member that’s caught what’s been “going around.”
For some people, it’s that time of year where you can just about guarantee that you’ll come down with something. Severe or not, you’ll find your immune system compromised and a few days of misery in your future.
What if you could dodge that cold? Avoid getting sick and miserable? Wouldn’t you do it? While there’s no guarantee that food can give you an ironclad defense against illness, these foods are chock full of nutrients that are proven to improve health and immunity: so they certainly don’t hurt your chances.
8 Powerful Foods to Boost Your Immune System & Fight Flu
Our parents tried to make us eat it for a reason. Broccoli is packed with vitamins A, C, and E, antioxidants, and fiber. Out of the vegetables out there, broccoli is one of the best. You’ll have a hard time finding one that competes in terms of nutritional benefits!
Best way to prepare: Lightly steamed, baked, or raw. Raw broccoli will maintain the most nutritional benefits.
2) Greek Yogurt
The key to reaping immunity benefits from yogurt is to eat the variety with live cultures. Greek and probiotic yogurts are what you’re after. These are full of healthy live bacteria that keep your digestive system free of disease-causing bacteria and help regulate digestion.
Best way to prepare: Look for unsweetened varieties. You can add your own fresh fruits, nuts, or granola for a healthy breakfast or snack.
3) Green Tea
With high levels of the antioxidant epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG), an immune system booster, green tea runs circles around most other tea varieties in terms of health benefits. With both black and green teas, you also have the benefit of flavonoid antioxidants. To boost your immune system, drink a few cups a day.
Best way to prepare: Looseleaf with a piping hot kettle, several times daily.
Mushrooms have been used in traditional medicine for centuries. Modern studies have discovered the big benefit to mushrooms for the immune system. They help increase the production and activity of white blood cells. White blood cells actively fight infections, so if there’s one thing you want to fortify, it’s that!
Best way to prepare: Add to omelets, pasta sauces, pizzas, or eat raw in a salad.
Spices have been historically used to treat all manners of maladies, but it’s not just superstition. Turmeric, for instance, has been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and has been used to treat various forms of arthritis. High concentrations of the chemical curcumin (which gives turmeric its vibrant color) has been known to treat muscle damage from over-exertion during exercise (though its concentration in turmeric isn’t high enough to make that much of an overall impact). Still, turmeric can be ingested for its antioxidant benefits, digestive aid, and anti-inflammatory benefits.
Best way to prepare: In curries or taken in capsule form.
Nuts are the prime example of a healthy fat. Almonds have plenty of healthy fat and are chock full of vitamin E, something that is valuable (if not vital) to a healthy immune system. However, vitamin E is fat-soluble, meaning it can only be properly absorbed with the presence of fat. So almonds are an ideal source of vitamin E!
Best way to prepare: A half-cup of raw almonds, shelled, with a pinch of sea salt. It’s a great on-the-go snack.
Though I don’t eat meat myself, there’s something classic about chicken noodle soup: and not without reason. Chicken is a great source of vitamin B-6 (along with turkey), which helps in the formation of healthy red blood cells.
Best way to prepare: Baked in the oven or added to your favorite soup. Your favorite cut of white meat has up to 50% of your daily recommended dose of B-6.
8) Sweet Potatoes
When we think about health and immunity, we usually think about what goes on inside the body, not outside. Our skin, however, plays a huge role in immunity, including protecting us from bacteria and viruses. Healthy skin is key to giving that protective layer its best chance against invading germs. How do we get it? Vitamin A, a key source of which is sweet potatoes, helps in the production of connective tissues. Sweet potatoes, along with squashes, carrots, and pumpkin, are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A.
Best way to prepare: You can’t go wrong with a baked sweet potato. Add a little butter and salt (or brown sugar if you have a sweet tooth) and you’ve got everything you need.
Which foods do you eat to fend off the flu? Share your favorites in the comments.