When you feel a tickle at 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.
Here are the six best immune-boosting foods to fight cold and flu.
Research shows chicken soup calms congestion and mucus. That is because of a compound called cysteine, an amino acid in chicken. This compound thins mucus secretions so congestion in the nose, chest and throat will be alleviated. 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 increase nutrient levels, which also boost a struggling immune system.
A little garlic can spice up a meal for your taste buds. The powerful antioxidant properties of garlic have also been found to be antiviral so can potentially help prevent colds as well as shorten their duration. The oily compound allicin (which gives garlic its distinctive smell) works cold-fighting magic. 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.
If you have memories of your grandmother spooning out honey when you had a sore throat, you’ll be pleased to know she knew what she was doing. Studies now show that honey can reduce a cough by coating the throat and soothing irritation. 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 that children under 12 months should not eat honey due to the risk of infant botulism.
The Chinese have sworn by the healing properties of tea for hundreds of years. Now, studies show tea contains antioxidants that can boost an ailing immune system. That’s because both green and black tea are rich in antioxidants, including the immune-boosting antioxidant L-theanine. Cardiff University researchers have found that hot drinks can ease sneezing, sore throats, chills and tiredness. Don’t forget that tea contains caffeine. If you are considering giving it to your kids, go easy — one cup a day is plenty and they will still feel the benefits.
If you are bored of eating vegetables all the time during cold season, you can switch with fruit and veggie juices. While experts still can’t agree on whether taking high doses of vitamin C has any significant effect on cold and flu symptoms, some studies show that taking it may actually help prevent the onset of colds and flu. Juice will give you vitamin C via whole foods rather than as a supplement, so fill your diet with foods like strawberries, oranges, tomatoes and broccoli.
Lean meat is an essential part of a healthy diet at a time of flu and cold. It provides a good level of iron, which is essential for a strong immune system. 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.
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