I loathe being sick — then again, don’t we all? Whether you have impending project deadlines or a newborn at home, getting sick is never convenient unless, of course, it’s the opportune excuse to bow out of that dreaded dinner with the in-laws.
Laughter aside, we can all agree nothing beats feeling healthy, energized, and ready for a killer workout. Read on to learn about the immunity boosting foods I recently began to incorporate into my diet. I urge you to do the same!
The onion relative and cooking staple packs in allicin, a compound that fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks. And, low and behold, results prove that those who take garlic supplements are two-thirds less likely to catch a cold.
Already have a cold? Don’t sweat it. Scientists from the University of Florida concluded that taking garlic extract reduced the severity of cold and flue symptoms. Bonus: garlic proves to lower risk of stomach cancer and colorectal cancer.
The live active cultures in yogurt, otherwise known as probiotics, include the “good for you” bacteria that help keep your intestinal tract fight disease-causing germs. Read more here.
Add berries to that yogurt and you end up with a super-charged immunity boost. The blueberry, in particular, is a disease-fighting powerhouse. Blueberries contain pterostilbene, a compound proven to combat neurological disease, inflammation, vascular disease, diabetes, and more.
Black and green teas contain L-theanine, an amino acid that breaks down to ethylamine by the liver. Ethylamine is a molecule that primes T cells, essential for immune system function. In a study conducted by Harvard University, researchers reported that people who drank 5 cups of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more interferon, the signaling proteins that detect pathogens such as viruses and harmful bacteria.
Oats & Barley
Reap the immunity boosting benefits of oats and barley by incorporating 1-3 servings into your diet daily. The grains contain a type of fiber, known as beta-glucan, that embodies antioxidant and antimicrobial capabilities. In turn, grains help boost immunity as well as speed wound healing.
A vegetarian’s best friend, mushrooms offer a palatable meat alternative in many plant-based dishes. The fungal growth is a centuries old remedy for a variety of ailments for its immunological benefits. Mushrooms increase white blood cell activity, thereby rendering them more aggressive. When you have an infection, white blood cells attack bacteria, viruses, and invasive germs.
Some of my favorite indulgences, including oysters, lobster, crab, and clams consist selenium, an antioxidant rich mineral that assists the production of cytokines — a type of protein that helps clear flu viruses. And, salmon lovers fear not; the fish is rich in omega-3 fats, which reduces inflammation as it protects the lungs from colds and respiratory infections.
More than just an old wive’s tale, chicken soup contains cysteine, an amino acid that thins mucus in the lungs. And, the hot broth keeps you hydrated and your nasal passages moist. The hearty soup also fights inflammation as it blocks the migration of inflamed white cells. Add herbs, and garlic to your soup and you end up with a super immunity booster and a delicious dinner.
Foods to Avoid
Now that we know what to eat when we’re feeling under the weather, here is a short list of foods to avoid:
1. Sweets (suppresses the immune system and causes inflammation)
2. High fat foods (body will work harder to digest high-fat foods)
3. Dairy (studies debate whether dairy stimulates mucus production, thereby exacerbating existing cold symptoms)
I hope these tips will help you remain healthy this cold and flu season! What are your tricks to staying healthy?