8 Foods For A Healthy Immune System

Published 12:59 pm Wednesday, January 9, 2019

From Healthy Connections

Vidant Chowan Hospital

When cold and flu season comes around, it can be tempting to quarantine the family at home and douse everything in hand sanitizer. But since that’s generally not doable (nor advisable) it comes down to everyday healthy habits to prevent illness. One key habit that can help boost your immune system is eating a healthy diet. While there is no single food that can stop a cold or flu entirely, a diet with the following foods can help:

1 Citrus fruits. Oranges are a go-to food when we get sick – and for good reason. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, tangerines and lemons are packed with vitamin C. Consuming vitamin C regularly may help decrease the duration of the common cold.

2 Chicken soup. This is another sickness-fighting staple that deserves its reputation. Research has found that chicken soup helps decrease cold symptoms by preventing inflammatory white cells from spreading in the body. It’s believed this is due in part to the bone broth in the soup, as well as a substance released by the action of cooking the chicken. Hot soup liquid can also help you stay hydrated.

3 Nuts and seeds. Nuts such as almonds, hazelnuts and Brazil nuts in addition to sunflower seeds come with plenty of vitamin E. This nutrient acts as a powerful antioxidant, protecting cells from being damaged and helping your body fight infection.

4 Fatty fish. Chronic inflammation in the body can weaken your immune system, but omega-3 fatty acids can help. Try to eat foods with these fatty acids on a regular basis and especially when you’re sick. You’ll want to choose fish such as salmon, tuna and sardines.

5 Garlic. Hopefully you don’t mind the smell, because adding a bit of garlic to your meals can help fight infection and bacteria. The health benefits, and the smell, are thanks to a compound called allicin that’s produced when garlic is cut or crushed. Try using some garlic daily in your soups, breads and other cooked meals to get the full benefits.

6 Yogurt. It’s great for breakfast or a midday snack and comes with two great immune boosters: zinc and probiotics. Zinc can reduce the duration of cold symptoms and control inflammation while the probiotics help reduce disease-causing bacteria and germs in the intestinal tract. Get the most out of yogurt by choosing plain varieties and adding berries for natural, nutritional sweetness.

7 Greens and poultry. What do broccoli, kale, chicken and turkey all have in common? They’re all great sources of iron, a nutrient that helps circulate oxygen to protective antibodies.

8 Liquids. Staying hydrated helps keep the throat and airways clear. Stay away from sugary drinks like juice or sports drinks since too much sugar can cause inflammation. Instead, choose water or hot tea.