6 Powerhouse Foods to Help Fend Off Flu

Active Senior Living
High in fiber and probiotics, oatmeal plays an important role in maintaining immune function.

High in fiber and probiotics, oatmeal plays an important role in maintaining immune function.

You can boost your immune system by eating certain foods this cold and flu season, according to Amwell.

The following six foods may help to boost your immune system and help you fight off the flu or even avoid the flu entirely. The biggest chunk of research about preventative medicine in both the common cold and flu is centered around Vitamin C, but spoiler alert: it takes more than eating a ton of vitamin C to ward off getting sick.

Salmon

Salmon has lots of heart-healthy Omega-3’s and a good dose of vitamin D. Did you know that the same vitamin you get from the sun and fortified dairy products is vital to a highly functioning immune system? It helps your body produce antimicrobial peptides, which fight off illness and keep lungs functioning at their best. A 3-ounce serving of salmon has twice your daily recommended value of vitamin D, making it a perfect flu-fighting, immune boosting food for those dark winter months. But before you go and buy all the lox in your grocery store at the sign of a sniffle, vitamin D is a way of preventing the flu, not a way of treating it.

Yogurt

Yogurt is one of those versatile foods that goes well with any meal. An extra added bonus? Yogurt doesn’t have to be prepared, just grab a spoon and go. You already know that yogurt is high in calcium and protein, but it also contains awesome probiotics, which helps you fight the flu. The live active cultures in yogurt have not only been shown to reduce allergy symptoms, lower cholesterol and help maintain digestive health, they’ve also been proven to help prevent the flu and common cold. Your digestive tract is one of the biggest immune system organs. It literally helps get rid of the bad stuff, while keeping the good stuff in. The probiotics in yogurt help rev up the phagocytes in your body, which like your white blood cells, help fight viruses once they infect your body. Eating yogurt a few times a week can help keep those phagocytes revved up and ready to attack the flu. Can’t eat dairy? Look for fermented foods like miso and kimchi, which also contain great amounts of probiotics.

Garlic

Garlic is not only effective in fighting off vampires (we kid, we kid); it can also fight off the flu, thanks in part to its antibacterial and antiviral properties found in a compound called allicin. According to one study, those who consumed garlic daily for three months had fewer colds than those who took a placebo. When they did come down with a cold, the duration of illness was shorter – an average of 4.5 days compared to 5.5 days for the placebo group. One of the best ways to take advantage of garlic’s healing properties is by drinking fresh garlic tea, sweetened with a little raw honey; it’s delicious and helps to heal what ails you. If you are already feeling the effects of the flu, add a bit of lemon juice, to help reduce and this mucus and unclog a stuffed up respiratory system.

Sweet Potatoes

It’s not the complex carbs, the manganese or even the vitamin C in sweet potatoes that make it a flu fighter – it’s the vitamin A. Vitamin A is one of those vitamins that works as needed and does way more than make sweet potatoes orange and improve eyesight. It strengthens the body’s cells and improves lymph node function, while helping to cleanse the body of disease-causing free radicals, molecules that cause tissue damage, which weakens your immune system, which then causes to you get sick. Other foods that contain the most bang for your buck in terms of vitamin A flu-fighting properties include: carrots, spinach, mangos, collard greens and pumpkin.

Black and Green Tea

Green and black tea have many health benefits, including hydrating the body and brewing up a defense force against infection. Green and black teas have 10 times the amount of antioxidants, disease-fighting compounds that help your body fend off illness, found in fruits and veggies.

Oats

No wonder the Quaker Oats man has been around forever. Oats are one of nature’s superfoods. Oats contain a type of fiber called beta-glucen, which has been found to provide outstanding benefits for you during the cold and flu season. Beta-glucen is a type of fiber which helps white blood cells locate the site of infection much more rapidly, and improves their ability to eliminate bacteria once they get there. Oats are also high in probiotics, which if you have been reading this post carefully, also plays an important role in maintaining immune function.

Courtesy Amwell Blog/Cassandra Aviles/Dec. 1, 2015