According to the CDC’s estimates, millions of Americans fall sick with the flu each year, and hundreds of thousands are hospitalized in serious cases. There are, of course, dozens of measures that you can take to ensure that the flu misses you entirely this year. From getting properly vaccinated to washing your hands to getting adequate sleep and exercise, you have a wide range of options for preventing the flu. In addition to taking these steps, it’s also crucial to pay attention to what you put in your body. As the saying goes: you are what you eat. And if you eat these five flu-fighting foods, you’ll be significantly less likely to fall prey to influenza.
Without further ado, let’s delve into these five fantastic, flu-fighting foods:
1. Chicken Noodle Soup
For centuries, mothers and grandmothers around the world have sworn by chicken noodle soup—and for much of that time, scientists shrugged off the effects as purely psychosomatic. If it helps soothe the symptoms, then it must be due to the comforting association chicken noodle soup has, right? Well, not exactly. That factor does contribute to the healing properties of chicken noodle soup, but it’s not the only reason to stock up on stock this winter.
According to a study conducted by Dr. Stephen Rennard of the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, chicken noodle soup contains a number of medically beneficial components. Chief among these benefits is chicken noodle soup’s anti-inflammatory mechanism.
It’s important to note that while store-bought chicken noodle soup does carry some of these same benefits, homemade is far better across the board.
2. Ginger Lemon Tea with Honey
Hydration, hydration, hydration. Whether you’re already sick, or you’re trying to keep the doctor at bay, it’s crucial to stay hydrated all winter long.
Few drinks are more flu-fighting or sore-throat soothing than a nice, steaming hot mug of ginger lemon tea. Stir in a spoonful of honey, and you’ve got a recipe for an immune-boosting power punch that will knock the flu into next Tuesday.
Sesquiterpenes, a key component of ginger, has been shown to combat rhinovirus among other common viral infections. For its part, honey also acts as an anti-inflammatory agent. And, of course, it’s well-documented that the vitamin C content of citrus fruits like lemon contributes to the overall health and plasticity of the immune system.
3. Brazil Nuts
Brazil nuts, which are rich in selenium and other essential nutrients, may also help your body to fight off harmful infections like the flu.
Most nuts contain at least some level of immune-boosting selenium, but Brazil nuts are by far the most selenium-rich. Therefore, if you’re looking to protect yourself against the flu without chowing down on an inordinate number of nuts, then Brazil nuts will be your best friend this cold and flu season.
As far as fruits go, quince is king when it comes to fighting the flu. Quinces are full of flu-fighting anthocyanins.
While consuming quince won’t prevent the flu, it will help boost your body’s immune response, which means even if you do contract this year’s strain of influenza, your symptoms will be far less severe, if you present with symptoms at all.
Garlic has been used for centuries for everything from warding off mosquitoes to lowering high blood pressure. But evidence suggests that it’s also instrumental in fighting off the flu and the common cold.
To reap the most substantial benefits, you would have to consume raw garlic whole—which can be (understandably) off-putting for most people. If you absolutely cannot stomach the powerful, pungent taste of raw garlic, you can always opt for a comforting batch of garlic mashed potatoes. The effects will be dampened, but they won’t be completely squashed by the cooking process.
On an individual level, none of these foods will prevent the flu. But when you combine their consumption with an already healthy, balanced diet, they can be pretty miraculous. So, feel free to slice up some quince, warm up some chicken noodle soup, and add a dash of garlic to all your favorite recipes. Let these healthy comfort foods carry you through the cold, flu-ravaged winter months and beyond.