The coronavirus’ rapid spread at the time of the flu and the common cold is alarming. However, your immune system, the last line of defense when it comes to fighting off these viruses, can be given a helping hand by consuming the proper amount of natural foods.
In fact, one of the ways to give your immune system a boost naturally is to have the right foods at your disposal. Foods that are natural antivirals could give your immune system the extra oomph it needs to help the body fight off all the nasty viruses circulating around this time of year.
One thing you can do right away to help give your immune system a jump start is to begin eating healthier. Even if dieting is not your thing, having a well-balanced, vitamin and mineral-rich diet will benefit your body in several ways, including that much needed immune system boost. Eat plenty of vegetables and fruits, and try to get in healthier fats, such as seeds and nuts. On top of eating better in general, add citrus fruits specifically. Fruits such as oranges, grapefruits, and lemons have high vitamin C content, and that’s one of the most powerful vitamins to boost when feeling ill or during cold and flu season!
10 Natural Foods That Fight Viruses If you want to give your body the extra kick it needs to fight off viruses, here are 10 of the best virus-fighting foods you need to know more about!
1. Garlic – This powerful superfood does wonders for your immune system! Garlic also stimulates the immune system, meaning it’s important to consume it during the cold and flu season. It helps to lower the blood pressure by thinning the blood and decreases the amount of cholesterol in the system. Any bacterial infection in the gastro intestines is negated as soon as raw garlic hits it. In terms of survival medicine, it is highly effective against E. coli, S. aureus, and others such as amebic dysentery and Cryptosporidium. All of these diseases become predominant/prevalent with the advent of a disaster, as freshwater supplies become contaminated.
2. Shitake Mushrooms – Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, and this is an immunostimulant that is purified and isolated and used with cancer therapy. Beta-glucans are also compounds (polysaccharides) responsible for modifying the biological responses of the body’s immune systems. This means (in a nutshell) that beta-glucans stimulate the body’s natural immune system “workhorses,” such as T-cells and cytokines that fight off diseases. These compounds are produced by medicinal mushrooms. Shiitake mushroom products can be found online. There are growing kits, dehydrated mushrooms, extracts and shiitake mushrooms in pill form.
3. Elderberry – Elderberry is another fantastic way to help your immune system. Elderberry has so many wonderful properties that make it perfect for use during the flu season! It’s an antioxidant, diaphoretic, diuretic, laxative, immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory. It is often used to help treat coughs, colds, flu, bacterial infections, viral infections, tonsillitis, lower cholesterol, improved vision, and heart health. If you’d like to try making your own elderberry syrup, this is a great recipe:
4. Sprouts – Sprouts, in general, have an excellent nutrition profile. In fact, sprouts are considered “nature’s multivitamin” and provide the highest amount of vitamins, minerals, proteins, and enzymes of any of food per unit of calorie. Mung bean sprouts have also shown a powerful antiviral and antimicrobial action. Broccoli sprouts have also shown great promise in their antiviral properties.
5. Citrus fruits – This citrus fruit is high in vitamin C and reduced inflammation and swelling, and reduce mucus production. As well, lemons have antioxidant properties that are vital to a strong immune system. Lemons also neutralize the activity of free radicals in the body. But, citrus fruits have more than just vitamin C. The principle of herbalism is that the whole herb or food is always more effective than any of its individual parts. The whole fruit also contains other vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber, an important part of your digestion (that normally slows down considerably during the duration of an illness such as the flu).
Here’s a way to make vitamin C powder to put in smoothies, drink with water, or sprinkled on yogurt for an immune boost:
If citrus fruits are not your thing, consider making nettle tea. Perhaps its most popular use is turning the leaves into stinging nettle tea, which is a common natural allergy relief remedy. It’s also proven to benefit skin, bone, and urinary health as well. Nettle also contains vitamins C and K, B vitamins, as well as minerals like calcium, magnesium, and iron. It also has amino acids and antioxidants, which may help fight free radicals. The antioxidant properties of the nettle plant have been observed to help minimize inflammation. It can be used topically to help relieve joint pain as well.
You can also eat dark leafy greens to get your vitamin C. These types of greens are yet another nutritional food source high in vitamin C that may be the missing link to boosting your immune system. Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, or Swiss chard are high in vitamin C. Peppers are another alternative to citrus fruits and are also high in vitamin C.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar – Did you know that most germs can’t survive in the overly acidic environment created by ACV. As well, it helps reduce inflammation and may help your body function at optimum levels by removing toxins and “detoxing.”
7. Rosemary – This wonderfully flavorful herb has also been hailed since ancient times for its medicinal properties. Rosemary was traditionally used to help alleviate muscle pain, improve memory, boost the immune and circulatory system, and promote hair growth.
8. Yogurt – This one is all about the probiotics! These teeny microorganisms help keep your gut running the way it should. Try eating more fermented foods. Fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and kombucha are widely available these days. They give your body a healthy dose of probiotics, which are live microorganisms that are important to good digestion and overall health.
9. Fresh Herbs – Herbs such as oregano, lemon balm, and peppermint all have antiviral properties that can help boost the immune system. Cinnamon and echinacea are also both have wonderful antibiotic and antiviral compounds that not only help your immune system but are a delicious way to flavor your foods as well.
10. Tea – Herbal tea has also been shown to provide health-boosting properties. Try this one for that extra kick your body craves during the cold and flu season:
Not listed is one of our all-time favorite antiviral foods is ginger.
Her’s a fun fact: Gingerol is the main active constituent of ginger and has been for its medicinal properties for thousands of years and has been praised as a folk medicine favorite. When ginger is dried, gingerol undergoes a dehydration reaction and forms shogaols, which are about twice as pungent as gingerol. Shogaols have a very strong antitussive (anti-cough) effect, and it, like gingerol, reduces blood pressure and gastric contractions. Keep in mind that ginger can interact with certain medications, so it is important to check with your doctor before using it for medicinal purposes. This is particularly important if you suffer from a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning medications. Read more about ginger and its health benefits here.