When you’re sick, especially with a cold or the flu, sometimes food can be a real turnoff. Here are 10 cold-fighting foods to focus on, and simple ways to incorporate them when you’re under the weather.
Chamomile consumption has been tied to an increase in antibacterial activity in the body. But its real impact may be its ability to support sleep, which protects immunity. In one study, postpartum women who drank chamomile tea for a few weeks reported better sleep quality compared to those who didn’t consume chamomile. Sip hot or iced, or use the steeped tea as the liquid for smoothies or oatmeal.
Curcumin, the natural compound in turmeric responsible for its vibrant color, is a potent anti-inflammatory compound. It has also been shown to boost immune cell activity and enhance antibody responses. Just be sure to combine turmeric with black pepper, which significantly ups curcumin bioavailability. Sprinkle a turmeric black pepper combo onto a smoothie, soup, broth, or cooked veggies.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil, or EVOO, possesses antibacterial properties that can reduce your risk of becoming sick. Saute your leafy greens in EVOO, or drizzle over a nutrient-rich, easy to digest carb, like the skin on potatoes.
Soup or broth
For decades, caretakers have been doling out chicken or other broth-based soups to cold sufferers, and there is some science to support its benefit.
That’s important because catching a cold triggers an inflammatory response in your upper respiratory tract, which contributes to symptoms like a stuffy nose.
Spicy peppers, including cayenne powder, help thin mucus to relieve nasal congestion. Capsaicin, the compound that gives spicy peppers their heat, may also help suppress a cough. Add a pinch of ground cayenne to your tea, soup, or broth
The garlic group experienced significantly fewer colds compared to the placebo group, and they recovered faster if they did get infected. Newer research confirms that aged garlic extract may enhance immune cell function.
In addition to its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, raw honey has been shown to help ease coughs in children. Manuka honey, a variety native to New Zealand but available in the US, may specifically help bolster immunity.
Ginger eases nausea, and like raw honey, possesses antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. For the best benefits, opt for fresh ginger root.
Bananas are one of the easiest foods on the digestive system and remain one of the few appealing foods when appetite is diminished due to illness. They also raise blood sugar and provide energy while delivering key nutrients that help support the immune system, including vitamins C and B6, copper, and folate.
In addition to supporting immunity, this nutrient, which also acts as an antioxidant, is needed for DNA repair and serotonin production. The latter helps promote happiness and sleep. Add fresh-squeezed lemon juice to hot or chilled water or hot tea.