As we step into the back-to-school mode, we start to set our goals. Then the cold or flu can swiftly and unexpectedly stop us in our tracks. The good news is that there are steps we can take to help support our immune system.
Rather than getting on with business as usual, it’s generally a good idea to scale down exercise efforts, get more sleep and if possible take some time off to heal more quickly.
In this article we’ll explore 5 foods to eat and what foods are best avoided this cold and flu season.
Foods to Speed Up the Healing Process
Before we dive into the foods to eat to support your immune system during cold and flu season, it’s important to note that consuming ample fluids like water, coconut water and herbal tea is the first line of defense. Additionally, the immune system is most active during deep sleep, so getting an early night, or simply taking lots of time to rest is imperative to swift healing. Here are five foods that you can eat to speed up cold and flu recovery:
1. Hippocrates Soup
Soup is one of the most easily digested foods that we can eat. They soothe the body and contain ample water to keep the body hydrated. Hippocrates was known as the father of medicine, and this soup lives up to his name. The ingredients of Hippocrates soup are:
Serves 2 (or two days’ worth of soup)
- 4 Stalks celery
- 1-1/2 lbs tomatoes
- 1 medium parsley root
- 2 medium onions
- Garlic as desired
- 1 lb potatoes
- 2 small leeks
- ½ cup parsley
- Handful of fresh thyme
- 1 Cup carrots
The soup is extremely simple to make, suitable for vegetarians, vegans and those on a gluten-free diet. If you need detailed instructions on how to make Hippocrates soup - you can find them here.
Garlic (Allium sativum) is one of the key ingredients in the Hippocrates Soup recipe outlined above. Back in 460-370 BC, Hippocrates was known to prescribe garlic to his patients to combat respiratory problems, parasites, poor digestion, and fatigue. Although used commonly in recipes, garlic is a potent healer and has been used medicinally for centuries. In a 2014 study, participants consumed a garlic supplement daily for three months and found that this resulted in fewer colds, compared to those who took the placebo.
Garlic has antibiotic properties that may help support the immune system during cold and flu season. It has also been shown to support neurodegenerative health, cardiovascular health and liver functioning compromised by excessive alcohol use. Researchers at the Toxicology, School of Public Health, Shandong University, China isolated the garlic-derived organosulfur compound - diallyl disulfide (DADS) as the compound that protects against ethanol-induced oxidative stress.
3. Foods Rich in Vitamin C
Eating foods high in vitamin C as well as consuming a potent supplement can support the immune system. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and immune system booster. Often people don’t feel like eating food, or would prefer bland foods, so vitamin C rich foods might be best consumed as a juice or soup.
Vitamin C-rich foods are also rich in essential minerals, vitamins and high in flavonoids, so in this way, vitamin C rich foods bolster the immune system.
Fruits with the highest vitamin C include:
- Guava is bursting with vitamin C - 419% of the daily value (DV).
- Strawberries contain 108% DV of vitamin C
- One cup of tomato juice provides 188.9% DV of vitamin C
- Orange Juice 67% DV
4. Apple Cider Vinegar
Consuming quality apple cider vinegar (ACV) provides many minerals and enzymes. Additionally, ACV can fight off pathogens. This is another tool from the medicine kit of Hippocrates, who used ACV to cleanse wounds thousands of years ago. ACV inhibits bacterial growth, can support healthy blood pressure levels and is good to add to your medicine cabinet during cold and flu season.
How to use ACV: Take 1-2 tablespoons ACV diluted in a glass of water twice per day.
Avid sailors praise ginger for how it relieves motion sickness. Ginger has been used for thousands of years as a medicinal root plant. Ginger has been found to soothe discomfort from nausea the digestive process. Due to the fact that 70% of the immune system is found in the gut, it’s important to ensure that the digestive system is working efficiently.
Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale Roscoe and Zingiberaceae, is made up of hundreds of compounds, some of which have potent antioxidants and help support healthy inflammatory pathways.
Ginger can be found in the following forms: Fresh root, dried, ginger extract/ ginger oil, tinctures, capsules, and lozenges.
Foods that contain ginger include: ginger (and lemon) tea, curry, gingerbread, cookies, ginger snaps and ginger ale.
Nature provides an abundance of plant based foods that boost the immune system by supporting healthy inflammatory pathways, providing essential nutrients and providing antioxidant qualities. It’s important to avoid eating foods that might cause inflammation and aggravate the immune system such as processed foods, alcohol, soda, fried foods and dairy.
Food matters to your health. This cold and flu season, be extra careful about giving your body the nourishment it needs.
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