Tis the season of flu; as the weather takes a turn for the worst so, too, does our health. However, certain foods can give your immune system a well needed boost to ward off any circulating colds and flus.
Live good bacteria cultures, present in yogurt, fight infections. A Swedish study gave 181 factory workers either a daily dose of yogurt containing Lactobactillus reuteri, which stimulates white blood cells, or a placebo. Those who received the Probiotic took 33% less sick days.
2) Oats & Barley
Both oats and barley are rich in a type of fibre that contains antimicrobials and antioxidants; beta glucan. It increases the capability of the immune system, speeds up wound healing and aids the efficiency of antibiotics.
It is the allicin in garlic that provides immune benefits. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or garlic extract over the course of 12 weeks. Those who took garlic were 2⁄3 less likely to catch a cold.
4) Chicken Soup
There’s a reason your mum always made soup when you were sick. Soup, especially chicken, blocks the migration of inflammatory white blood cells, which lead to most colds. The nutritious broth mimics flu medication by thinning mucus and unblocking sinuses. For an extra immune boost add garlic, onion or spice.
5) Black/green tea
A Harvard study found those who drank 5 cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus fighting interferon in their blood than those on a placebo. Their immune system had the amino acid L-theanine, present in black and green tea, to thank.
Oysters are very high in zinc, which is crucial for fighting infections as it aids the development of white blood cells that identify and destroy invading foreign bodies. If you’re not a fan of seafood then beef is a good alternative.
Douglas Schar, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Wahington DC said “studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive”. Shiitake, maitake and reishi seem to have the most potent effect. We suggest you steer clear of magic mushrooms.