Americans catch nearly 1 billion colds each year, and between five and 20 percent of people in this country will contract the flu, but there are certain foods that can help build your immune system and protect you from certain illnesses. Here are our top 10 picks for the best foods to give your immunity an extra boost!
1. Chicken soup. Your mother was right. Chicken soup is one of the best foods for fending off sniffles. The liquid is helpful for fighting viruses and clearing nasal congestion. The broth is also believed to be anti-inflammatory. Some studies have found that commercial organic chicken stock is as effective as homemade, so keep some on hand for those sniffles that may sneak up on you in the winter season.
2. Garlic. Want to give that chicken soup an even more powerful immunity boost? Add some garlic! Garlic is known to have antifungal, antiviral, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
3. Hot tea. People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that’s responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea—decaf versions have it, too.
4. Cauliflower. Cauliflower is rich in glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that is helpful for warding off infections. Cauliflower is also full of various antioxidants and other nutrients that are supportive of overall health.
5. Ginger. Ginger is not only warming on a cold day, but can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flu. Ginger has been found in the scientific research to help balance the immune system to restore it to proper functioning. It has also been found to enhance the protective functions of the immune system.
6. Eggs. Eggs are an excellent source of protein, which is important for supporting a healthy immune system. Eggs also contain zinc and selenium, two of the most important minerals for boosting immunity.
7. Honey. Thanks to its antimicrobial properties, honey not only soothes sore throats but can also kill certain bacteria that causes an infection. Honey can also help improve the digestive system which will support your overall wellness.
8. Mushrooms. Several species of mushrooms such as shiitake, maitake and reishi mushrooms possess immunostimulating properties. The polysaccharide content of these mushrooms may stimulate various immune system components, thus helping your body to build immunity.
9. Yogurt. Increase your intake of fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, and sugar-free strained Greek yogurt, which boost your overall wellness by promoting intestinal health. Acting as probiotics (which can also be taken as supplements to keep the stomach flu away), fermented foods aid digestion, improve immune function, and increase vitamin B levels, all helpful in warding off sickness.
10. Salmon. Salmon and other cold-water fish like tuna, mackerel, and halibut are excellent sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is an important nutrient for immune function. Lack of vitamin D also has a strong correlation with risks of influenza and tuberculosis as well as asthma.