I originally wrote this post in 2013 to help people boost their immunity during flu season, but as a pandemic is upon us, and may last for a while, I updated it in 2020. No one enjoys being sick, but at our age, a bad case of the flu or COVID-19 can be deadly especially if complications develop like bronchitis or pneumonia.
Rather than depend on over the counter medication or iffy supplements, you can help boost your immunity by adding some of the foods listed below to your diet.
Tahini sesame seed paste – is rich in magnesium, zinc and healthy protein. Mix it with plain Greek yogurt, a couple of cloves of garlic, lemon juice. Eat 2 Tbsp. of this powerful mixture every day.
Black Pepper contains piperine, an anti-inflammatory alkaloid. Originally from India, black pepper has long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. It has anti-cancer, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and anti-microbial properties that aid in healing illness. It also destroys cold-causing germs, clears nasal passages, and relieves congestion. It will induce fever sweats which can dislodge mucus in the chest and nose. Sprinkle it freely over your food.
Leaf Oregano – contains an aromatic oil that is known to kill E. coli on meat, staph on the skin, and over 30 other germs. It’s an effective anti-inflammatory as well. Powdered oregano doesn’t work as well. Using the extracted essential oil of oregano will especially help you boost your immunity. You can take capsules or place 2 drops of it on your toothbrush.
Pumpkin – contains beta-carotene, a huge immunity booster. Roast pumpkin seeds or make a soup out of the meat by splitting a small pumpkin in half and roasting it for 45 minutes. Scoop out the meat and puree. Add 1tsp butter, a little sugar, and cinnamon for a satisfying and healthy soup.
Chamomile tea –has antibacterial properties and is relaxing. Chamomile increases the blood levels of plant-based compounds called antibacterial polyphenols. Drink it often and especially if you’re stressed. It will also help you sleep.
Steel Cut Oats – help to build macrophage, which is produced deep in your bone marrow. These are the white blood cells that fight bacteria, viruses, and other intruders. Steel-cut oats are the most effective for this. Rolled oats have only half the amount of immunity-boosting elements as steel-cut.
Salad dressings with healthy fats – Eating a salad every day is a healthy habit, but drowning it in bottled low-fat dressing is not. Researchers from Iowa State University found that without dietary fat, your body doesn’t absorb the disease-fighting nutrients in vegetables that you need such as carotenoids.
Choose dressings with healthy fats such as olive and nut oils. Mix 2-3 parts oil with 1 part high quality, antioxidant-filled Balsamic vinegar, or if you like an Asian flavor, 3 parts sesame oil to 1 part rice wine vinegar.
Whey protein – contains an amino acid called cysteine. It converts to glutathione in the body. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that protects cells against bacterial and viral infections. The highest form of whey protein is called whey protein isolate.
It’s purer than concentrate and pricier. Whey protein is great for morning smoothies such as this October Pumpkin smoothie treat. The clear liquid that forms on most cartons of plain yogurt is pure whey protein. Instead of draining it, stir it back into the yogurt.
Probiotic Foods – Fermented foods such as plain yogurt, kefir, and sauerkraut contain beneficial bacteria that help improve digestion and improve immunity. If you purchase yogurt from the store look for the label “Live and Active Cultures.”
A study in Sweden has shown that probiotics help prevent respiratory infections like the common cold. To learn to make your own fermented foods this is an excellent website.
Tomatoes – Although chicken soup will help you feel better when you have a cold or flu, eating a tomato-rich diet will help you prevent getting sick in the first place. The lycopene in tomatoes acts as an antioxidant to help to fight infection and damage from free radicals.
Red Wine – Drinking wine with a meal is good for your heart, but it may also prevent food poisoning. It will also protect you from getting sick from E. coli, listeria, and salmonella. That’s because it contains a combination of ethanol, organic acids, and low pH. It mixes up the offending bacteria’s DNA. Red wine is more effective than white in this regard.
Capsaicin – is a compound found in chili peppers. It helps your body build antibodies to fight colds and infections. Just a dash or two of hot sauce will help flush out toxins and keep you from getting sick.
Soluble Fiber – Eating a diet that’s rich in citrus fruits, apples, carrots, beans, and oats fights inflammation and improves immunity. Soluble fiber is much more effective than eating insoluble fiber such as wheat, whole grains, nuts, and green leafy vegetable although they are healthy as well. Make it your goal to eat 25 to 38 grams of soluble fiber every day.
Water with electrolytes – Flushing the system every day with electrolyte-enhanced water will keep your body hydrated and healthy. Electrolytes add extra sodium, potassium, and chloride that may be lost if you are vomit, have diarrhea, are exercise too hard, are on a high protein diet, or taking blood pressure medication. If you have a cold or flu, it’s critical to get enough electrolytes
Why is chicken soup the Jewish penicillin?
Chicken soup or any hot liquid (all soups included) helps you stay hydrated but also raises the temperature of your airways. This helps to loosen mucus. To make it even more effective, add a few hot chilis or some hot sauce.
The Polish cold remedy – OK, this may not be recommended by doctors. My eccentric Polish acting teacher told me about it many years ago. He said to take a shot of vodka mixed with cayenne pepper if you want to break a fever.
Thieves Oil – This essential oil, made by Young Living Essential Oils was said to have been developed by thieves during the plague. They would rob dead bodies and never get sick. It’s a combination of cloves, lemon, cinnamon, eucalyptus, and rosemary.
I decided to give it a try by putting a couple of drops on my wrist every day. That was in about 2010. Since then, I’ve only had a handful of colds. It used to be I would get a cold and then it would immediately turn into bronchitis. That only happened once in the last 10 years and it was mild. I have no idea how it works but I swear by it. I love the way it smells too.
Additional ways to boost your immunity and prevent becoming ill
- wash your hands frequently
- sneeze into a tissue and not your hands to avoid spreading germs
- don’t touch your face – germs spread through eyes, nose, and mouth
- avoid, being around others who are ill if you can
- exercise regularly
- don’t smoke or drink to excess
- reduce your daily stress.
- get your flu shot annually and pneumonia shot if you’re over 65. Hopefully, a vaccine for COVID-19 will be developed soon.
- If you need a mask, check out Etsy here. They have some fabulous and stylish ones as well as other supplies.
How do you boost your immunity? Please share by leaving a comment below! We’d love to hear your tips.