As pumpkin flavoured lattes and sweater weather herald the change in seasons, many people fall victim to colds and flu. When the changes in temperature presages the flu season, you can beat the odds by fortifying yourself against the sniffles. Eating well will help to boost your immune system which will prevent disease or, at the very least, speed your recovery. Getting five servings of fruit and vegetables each day is a good start, but there are foods which are better at beating the winter blues.
Chicken Soup: This age-old curative has been around for centuries, first making its appearance as a flu-buster in Ancient Egypt. A study in 2000 by Dr. Stephen Rennard, professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine, found that traditional chicken soup does have actual healing properties. It’s easy to digest, contains valuable nutrients and provides much-needed hydration. Adding additional veggies will help to bolster the vitamin content.
Garlic: The flavouring agent called alliin in garlic doubles as a decongestant and an antibacterial, making it the perfect ingredient to combat the head cold. Garlic also boosts your white blood cell count which helps to strengthen your immune system. Add garlic to your meals, eat the cloves raw or take garlic supplements if that proves too daunting. Follow up the garlic with a little parsley to freshen the breath.
Ginger: This rewarding root works to reduce fever and has the same pain-fighting strength as some over the counter pain medications. Ginger relieves sore throats, congested sinuses and tight chests. Ginger’s expectorant properties help to rid the body of mucus (better out than in!) Ginger settles the stomach and its anti-inflammatory properties sooth aching bodies. Using fresh ginger is best; add to smoothies or slice up and make ginger tea with lemon or honey.
Chillies: These feisty fruits contain capsaicin which gives them their spicy taste. Chillies stimulate the flow of mucus which helps to relieve congestion. Chillies and sweet red peppers also have the highest Vitamin C content. Vitamin C boosts the immune system and helps you to kick your cold sooner. Sweet red peppers have a tendency to store pesticides, so opt for organic varieties if possible or grow your own.
Honey: It’s the antimicrobial properties of honey that ensure it never goes bad on your shelf. These antibacterial powers contribute to ridding the body of your winter germs. Honey is great at soothing sore throats and relieving coughs. Pour honey over fruits, toast and waffles or use it to sweeten tea.
Echinacea: A kick-butt antiviral and antibacterial, Echinacea helps the body fend off illnesses before they even begin. Take a few drops of Echinacea daily to fortify yourself against winter illnesses. Taking Echinacea when you are already ill will help to speed your recovery. Take at least 3 grams a day for effective cold and flu relief.
Green Tea: Keep hydrated and take advantage of green tea’s antioxidant qualities to boost your immune system. When you are sick, green tea can provide a soothing way to rehydrate; add a couple of teaspoons of honey to relieve a sore throat.