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Winter is here, which means a greater chance of catching a cold or the flu. You can get all the sleep you want and load up on EmergenC and AirBorne, but protecting yourself from illness requires more than just a good night’s rest and a couple vitamins. Eating the right foods and keeping a diet is crucial in helping to strengthen your immune system and fight off the flu.
Foods high in nutrients such as antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals can play a large role in keeping your body functioning optimally, so it’s important to keep a diet abundant in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains if you want to prevent yourself from getting sick. In order to avoid — or fight off — the flu this season, you should eat these nine foods that will help you feel in tip-top shape.
1. Chicken Soup
Your mother may have served you chicken soup when you were younger, but it turns out that it can have more than just comforting effects. Studies have shown that eating chicken soup can inhibit movement of white blood cells and also help with air flow and nasal mucus.
Garlic is not only tasty, but filled with nutrients that keep you healthy. Eating garlic can help prevent the flu and also reduce the severity of existing symptoms.
The pungent food has been found to have anti-viral, anti-bacterial, and anti-fungal properties, making it a great choice when you’re feeling under the weather.
Ginger is not only an anti-inflammatory and powerful immune booster, but it is also a natural way to reduce nausea and an upset stomach. The root can also help ease a sore throat, fight the common cold, and alleviate headaches.
4. Citrus Fruits
Most of us know that oranges contain vitamin C, which can help fight off sickness, but citrus fruits, including oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes, also contain flavonoids that can significantly boost your immune system.
Beans contain a variety of nutrients such as the B vitamins, fiber, and antioxidants that help strengthen and boost the immune system. Kidney and lima beans contain the most fiber, but other good options include black beans, kidney beans, and white beans.
Warm tea and liquids can help alleviate sickness, but tea alone contains specific antioxidants called catechins that have illness-fighting properties. One study even found that people who drank tea have an immune system that responds five times faster to germs than those of coffee drinkers.
Studies show that people who eat a cooked shitake every week showed an improved immune system, a result of better-functioning gamma delta T-cells and reductions in inflammatory proteins. Mushrooms contain selenium and B vitamins, among other nutrients, that play a key role in fighting off sickness.
Almonds contain naturally-occurring chemicals that improve the body’s ability to detect viruses as well as prevent them from replicating and spreading. The nuts can both protect and fight off a wide range of viruses, so get a snack pack or spread some almond butter on toast to help keep your body strong.
Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines contain omega-3 fatty acids, which help reduce inflammation in the body. Research has also found that fish oil helped prevent death in mice infected with influenza, as omega-3s contain lipids that prevent the virus from replicating in the body.