Sure, you’re eating right and exercising daily and you feel great. You’re the healthiest you’ve ever been…until you come down with the cold or flu. Here’s how to deal.
The Best Foods to Eat
1.) Eggs are very high in zinc, which is one of the most important minerals for your immune defenses. Plus, they’re much more pleasant tasting than taking a zinc supplement. In addition they pack a nice protein punch, which is necessary for building antibodies and general immune function.
2.) Fermented foods. Foods like yogurt, kefir, kombucha, and natural sauerkraut are rich in probiotics. Probiotics promote good bacteria in the gut, which can help fight the bad bacteria that makes you sick.
3.) Sweet potatoes are high in beta-carotene, which the body needs to make Vitamin A. It’s also high in Vitamin C. Both of these are key in boosting your immune system.
4.) Chicken soup. It may be cliche, but it’s for good reason. Chicken soup helps to fight the inflammation that occurs with the common cold as well as aiding the nasal cavity in keeping infections from entering the body. Chicken soup also usually contains onions and garlic, both of which have antiviral properties. But more on that later. Finally, as previously mentioned, protein is key in developing antibodies. So slurp away!
5.) Fatty fish. Salmon and other fatty cold-water fish contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re also a great source of Vitamin D and deficiencies of Vitamin D have been linked to frequent sickness. Finally, they have heaps of protein.
6.) Nuts. Like fish, nuts are also a good source of omega-3s. In addition, different types of nuts are rich in different vitamins and minerals. Almonds are high in Vitamin E, cashews are high in zinc, brazil nuts are high in selenium, and pistachios are high in vitamin B6.
7.) Tea. Like chicken soup, it’s very soothing when you’re feeling sick. But it also packs important health benefits. In addition to their powerful antioxidants, one study suggests that most teas contain chemicals that prime the body for fighting bacteria and fungi that could make you sick. But avoid the heavy chai teas from Starbucks (they’re too high in sugar) and go for a plain green or herbal tea when you’re feeling less than optimal.
8.) Beef. Believe it or not, beef is an immunity powerhouse. Like eggs, it has high amounts of zinc and protein.
9.) Turmeric.This spice, found in curry dishes, contains curcumin which is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and for supporting the immune system. Studies are even beginning to advocate its importance in treating immune disorders.
10.) Water. It sounds self-explanatory, but I keep running into more and more people who “don’t like water.” Too bad. You should be drinking a lot of it all the time, but your body needs it even more when you start feeling ill. Fight dehydration and gulp away.
The Low-FODMAP Dilemma
So many of the foods that promote good immune functioning are no-no’s on the low FODMAP diet and may aggravate digestive issues. BUT I highly recommend eating them anyway when you feel sickness coming on. Of course, speak to your doctor first, but I’d personally prefer a day or two of stomach pain to a week or two of illness. In addition, when your immune system is compromised you’re more susceptible to further complications. These foods are great for fighting illness:
- Garlic is a powerful immune system aid. It’s known for its antioxidants and is argued to be just as potent as some antibiotics.
- Onions also contains antioxidants with antiviral properties. This makes them such an important component of chicken soup for fighting the cold.
- Mushrooms help in white blood cell formation and general immune health.
What to Avoid
1.) Sugar. Instead of drinking orange juice, eat oranges. Sure the juice has vitamin C, but it’s at the cost of a much higher concentration of sugar, which may lead to inflammation and further weaken the immune system.
2.) Exercising. Your body needs rest. Sure you might be worried about your progress if you’re trying to build muscle or lose weight. But adequate rest is necessary so you can get back to the gym with full energy.
3.) Eating too little. Starving a fever is actually not the way to go. When you’re sick, your body needs even more calories to function normally because your metabolism speeds up. You need to give it adequate nutrition in order to get better.
What are your go-to remedies when sickness strikes?
Disclaimer: This is not intended to replace medical advice.