As the saying goes, you are what you eat. That is true in every sense because your health depends on the types of food you eat. While eating unhealthy and junk food can make you ill, weak and disease prone, eating well balanced and nutritious food can make you healthy and strong, allowing you to live longer. One of the greatest advantages in eating healthy food is that it strengthens your immune system and protects you from the attack of disease causing germs and microbes. A well balanced diet should provide you with the required amounts of vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, dietary fiber, antioxidants and other nutrients. It is these nutrients that help your body build a protective barrier against diseases and infections. A list of foods that can improve your defense system and help you fight the common cold and flu are presented here:
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Eating chopped up raw garlic is a popular remedy to knock out the common cold. Garlic is a potent antioxidant that anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-microbial properties. The nutrients in this herb such as vitamin C, minerals like sulfur and certain enzymes are considered to play a role in its capacity to fight flu and cold.
Inflammation is a major factor that contributes to several diseases including the common cold and flu. Omega 3 fatty acids are known to be highly effective in reducing inflammation and also in increasing the activity of a type of white blood cell known as B cell. Since fishes like tuna, sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel are rich in omega 3 fatty acids, adding them as a part of your diet can reduce inflammation and prevent cold.
Oysters are considered to be an effective cure for the common cold because they are packed with zinc, a mineral that has been proven to strengthen and improve the immune system. A single oyster can provide you with about 13 milligrams of zinc.
Citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, which is a powerful antioxidant. Although there is no evidence that vitamin C can prevent colds, studies reveal that it can surely reduce the cold symptoms and duration of your suffering by about a day or so.
Eating yogurt that has active cultures can help in preventing cold. Although bacteria are usually thought of as disease and infection causing microbes, there are several types of good bacteria that can be beneficial to your health. Studies reveal that consuming probiotics is a great way to reduce the risks of upper respiratory ailments.
Anise seeds with their licorice flavor have been found to have antibacterial properties that help in clearing your upper respiratory tract of congestion and also in reducing cough and associated symptoms of the common cold. For getting relief from cold, anise seeds are generally taken in the form of tea. For making this concoction, add a cup of anise seeds to a cup of hot water. Also add honey or sugar if needed. Drink this tea for up to three times a day and you will find immense relief from cold and flu.
Just like anise seeds, fennel can also help in clearing chest congestion because of its natural expectorant properties. It also has natural anti-viral and antibiotic properties that can help fight off infections of the upper respiratory tract. The best way to enjoy the benefits of fennel is by drinking the tea made from fennel seeds. To make this tea, add a teaspoon of fennel seeds to a cup of boiling water. Steep the tea for about 15 to 20 minutes and then strain it. You can add honey or sugar to sweeten the drink.
Fenugreek seeds also have antiviral properties and hence provide a soothing effect on your mucous membranes. Research shows that it has the ability to kill viruses that are responsible for causing sore throats. It is also found to be helpful in relieving symptoms of common cold such as sneezing, cough, and runny nose. Just like preparing fennel tea, fenugreek seeds can also be used to prepare a concoction that can be taken two to three times a day to get relief from common cold.
Tea happens to be a rich source of antioxidants called catechins that is found to have the ability to fight off cold and flu. A hot cup of tea can bring immediate relief if you are suffering from sore throat. The heat of the tea can also help to loosen mucus, making it easy to cough out or blow out the mucus. The flavonoids in tea help in reducing inflammation and also in boosting your immune system.
Oil of oregano
Oil of oregano is natural oil that is obtained from wild oregano plants. It is another powerful flu-fighting agent because of its antibacterial, anti-microbial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. This oil also contains thymol and carvacol, two main ingredients that enhance your immune system.
Red peppers are a rich source of vitamin C and so just like citrus fruits, they can also provide relief from flu and common cold.
Ginger is yet another powerful herb that can heal the common cold. Ginger has antioxidant, antiseptic and anti-viral properties that is helpful in reducing inflammation and soothing sore throat. Ginger also helps in reducing fever and pain, and its sedative properties can promote rest during your illness.
Pure cocoa is loaded with polyphenols, which are antioxidants capable of fighting diseases. Dark chocolate contains a chemical called theobromine, which is a natural cough suppressant that can provide relief from chronic cough.
Mushrooms contain some of the best nutrients that support your immune system. There are different types of mushrooms that possess anti-bacterial, anti-fungi and anti-viral properties. Almost all types of mushrooms contain nutrients like vitamins, potassium, fiber and powerful antioxidants that are immune-boosting.
Green leafy vegetables are a powerhouse of nutrients that helps in enhancing the immune system and fight off flu and common cold. The darker the green color, the more nutrients the vegetable contains. They help in alleviating the symptoms of cold such as coughs, chest congestion, sore throat and sniffles.
Lean meat is a rich source of protein which is not only essential for building bones and muscles but also for strengthening your immune system and building antibodies that help in fighting infections. Turkey, chicken, pork, nuts, legumes, beans etc are all good sources of protein.
Blueberries are considered to contain the most active antioxidants because of the presence of high concentrations of anthocyanins. They have high levels of vitamin C, which helps in boosting your immune system. In addition to these antioxidants, blueberries are also packed with vitamin A, B complex vitamins, and minerals like copper, zinc, selenium, and iron, all of which are helpful in protecting your body against infections, flu and the common cold.
Orange vegetables and fruits
Orange colored fruits and vegetables such as pumpkin, carrot and sweet potato are rich in beta-carotene, a carotenoid which is converted to vitamin A inside our body. Vitamin A is an important nutrient that is needed to maintain a strong and healthy immune system.
Whole grain cereals
Whole grain cereals like barley and oats are rich in beta-glucan, which is a soluble fiber well known for its immune enhancing and cholesterol lowering properties. Studies conducted on animals show that beta-glucan can boost your immunity and prevent infections of the upper respiratory tract. The consumption of whole grain cereals is thus helpful in preventing the common cold and flu.
Honey is a well known natural remedy that has been used since ancient times to treat flu and cold. Honey helps in reducing cough and in relieving sore throat. Drinking warm water with lemon and honey is found to be effective in relieving congestion and reducing the symptoms of cold and flu.
Just like the other citrus fruits, lemon is also a rich source of vitamin C that helps in boosting your immune system. Drinking lemon juice is helpful in loosening mucus and in soothing congestion. Lemon peel contains high levels of liminoids and liminene, which are substances known to improve the functioning of the immune system.
Broccoli and cabbage
Broccoli and cabbage are high in vitamin C and glucosinolates that helps in strengthening your immune system. Drinking soups made out of these vegetables is a great way to get relief for common cold.
When you are suffering from a bad cold, there is nothing better than a bowl of hot chicken soup. It helps in increasing the temperature in your upper respiratory tract making it difficult for the viruses and germs to thrive. It also helps in loosening mucus so that you can easily blow it out. Studies reveal that soups help in inhibiting the release of neutrophils, which are a type of white blood cells that are responsible for causing congestion when you have a cold.
Although it is not possible to cure a cold, you can take make measures to prevent its occurrence in the first place. Eating the right kind of foods not only provides your body with the fuel it requires but also with the nutrients to boost your immune system to fight off diseases and infections.