As flu and cold season approaches, it becomes increasingly important for us to take care of our bodies, be mindful of what we put into our mouths, and get plenty of exercise! These measures will help to not only keep us productive and efficient while at work, but it will also increase energy levels, decrease stress, and keep our brains functioning at a high capacity (both inside and outside of work).
Below are 10 foods and drinks proven to help bolster the immune system by preventing and treating flu and cold symptoms:
#1 – Kombucha
Kombucha is a fermented tea that has been consumed for centuries. This delicious drink is rich in probiotics and contains antioxidants that can kill harmful bacteria. Kombucha also supports a healthy gut, is beneficial to mental health, and has been proven to fight numerous diseases!
#2 – Hot Lemon Water
Seems too simple and too good to be true, I know. But this simple remedy aids in digestion and also boosts the immune system by protecting the body from a cold or the flu.
The warm liquid coupled with the lemon can soothe a sore throat, decrease inflammation, and help relieve congestion.
Whether you are attempting to prevent the flu or are already showing symptoms of the flu or cold, you cannot go wrong with some good ol’ hot lemon water. I typically consume 8-16 oz. in the morning, as this aids in digestion AND hydration.
#3 – Apple Cider Vinegar
This vinegar helps keep the pH levels balanced, which can help prevent cold and flu germs from making your nose and chest their home. I recommend 1-2 Tbsp. per day, stirred in water.
#4 – Coconut Oil
This remedy has high levels of lauric acid, which the body can convert into a substance that has antimicrobial properties. Coconut oil helps boost the immune system. It can be taken with food, melted in hot tea or coffee, or eaten raw — straight out of the jar!
#5 – Ginger
I eat this every day by blending it in my juices or smoothies! I even have some right now that I am sipping on. Ginger helps relieve sinus trouble and congestion.
#6 – Garlic (raw or pill form)
Eating garlic regularly is one of the best things you can do during flu season. Allicin, a natural property in garlic, fights bad bacteria and viruses.
#7 – Citrus Fruits (oranges, lemons, limes, etc.)
These delicious fruits are great sources of vitamin C of vitamin C — an important antioxidant that helps boost your immune system. You can also get vitamin C from peppers (red, green, yellow, orange, etc.), kiwi, and strawberries.
#8 – Prebiotics
Your body thrives if it has a healthy dose of probiotics functioning properly from within. Prebiotics are awesome to include in the diet because while these cannot be digested by the body, they are food for the probiotics that help grow them big and strong. Confused?
Think of it like this: Pac-Man is the probiotic, and the little blue dots are the prebiotics. You can find prebiotics in oats and barley (contain beta-glucan) . . . and onions, bananas, and asparagus (contain inulin).
#9 – Cauliflower
This veggie boosts glutathione, an antioxidant that gives your immune system added superpowers to shut down flu symptoms.
#10 – Green and Black Teas
These teas are key sources of antioxidants, while chamomile and ginger teas calm upset stomachs and reduce inflammation. You can even add honey, which soothes the throat.
Moreover, the steam from the tea opens up your sinuses!
Although this article is centered around flu/cold season, these foods and drinks are great to consume on a year-round basis. Try them out during this upcoming season, and let me know how they work for you!
Robert Eyler has been involved in health and fitness for over 15 years. He grew up in San Diego and went to the University of Redlands, where he double-majored in Business and Accounting, minored in Exercise Science, and played football for four years. He is a certified personal trainer, corrective exercise specialist, fitness nutrition specialist, and owner of GetFit42. He is credentialed by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Robert is also a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) in the state of California. He currently resides in Huntington Beach.