With all this talk of the coronavirus, many are trying their darndest to eat foods that will boost their immune systems but are they choosing the right stuff?
When you feel a cold or flu virus coming on, food might be the last thing on your mind. Getting the right foods and beverages into your system can offer symptom relief or even strengthen immunity.
Here are some foods that can help boost your immunity:
Almonds in particular were found to directly combat cold and flu. Scientists at the Institute of Food Research in Norwich, England, and the Policlinico Universitario in Messina, Italy, discovered that almond skins improve white blood cells’ ability to detect infections and increase defense against infections. The study didn’t say how many almonds it takes to fight a cold. It is thought, however, that regularly eating almonds can help completely ward off a cold, and noshing on them while sick, shortens the duration. A glass of almond milk is a good source of protein, vitamin E, and zinc for a stronger immune system.
Soup is a preferred and comforting beverage when folks are sick. According to the National Institutes of Health, the idea of hot soup as a cold remedy has been around since at least the 12th century and may really help ease cold and flu symptoms. Soup can help speed up the movement of mucous in your nose because it’s a hot fluid that causes the dilation of blood vessels. The dilation leads to increased blood flow and allows the mucous to flush everything out. And that will help alleviate nasal congestion. Soups are also hydrating because they typically contain not only water but also salt and those two together are good properties for hydration. Some research suggests chicken soup in particular can help reduce inflammation associated with colds and flu, thus providing some symptom relief.
Blueberries contain a type of flavonoid called anthocyanin, which has antioxidant properties that can help boost immunity. A 2016 study noted that flavonoids play an essential role in the respiratory tract’s immune defense system. According to scientists, folks who ate foods rich in flavonoids were less likely to get an upper respiratory tract infection, or common cold, than those who did not.
Oranges are chockfull of vitamin C, which many people consume when they feel a cold in the works. Researchers are, however, still not sure as to how vitamin C may reduce the duration of common cold symptoms and improve the function of the human immune system.
Honey has serious antibacterial effects, likely because of its high content of antimicrobial compounds. Some evidence suggests that honey can also stimulate the immune system. These qualities alone make honey an excellent food to eat when sick, especially if you have a sore throat caused by a bacterial infection. Many studies show that honey suppresses coughing in children. However, honey should not be given to children under 12 months old.
Yogurt contains bone-building calcium and other vitamins and minerals. Some yogurts also contain beneficial probiotics. Studies show that probiotics can help both children and adults get colds less often, heal faster when sick and take fewer antibiotics. If you are worried about feeling even more phlegmy after consuming yogurt, then don’t! Several studies show that dairy intake causes no change in cough, congestion or mucus production, even among those who are under the weather.
Pomegranates have been known for hundreds of years for their multiple health benefits, including antimicrobial activity. Research indicates that pomegranates and their extracts may serve as natural alternatives due to their potency against a wide range of bacteria and viruses. Pomegranates have three kinds of antioxidants — tannins, anthocyanins and ellagic acid. Its seeds are the powerhouse of nutrients. Antioxidants are essential to keep cells in our bodies healthy and able to resist infections, minimize inflammations, and prevent organ damage. The flavonoid antioxidants found in pomegranate juice have also been shown to combat viruses and decrease the length of a cold by as much as 40%.
Lemons are an excellent source of vitamin C that may help strengthen the immune system against the germs that cause the common cold and the flu. One review found that, while vitamin C supplements do not appear to reduce the incidence of colds in a population, they may help lessen its duration. Vitamin C may also help boost immunity in people who are undergoing extreme physical activity. Squeezing a whole lemon into a glass of hot water with a large spoonful of honey makes a soothing drink for someone with a cough or cold. A word of caution, a high intake of vitamin C can trigger gastrointestinal problems in people who need to take iron supplements.