Nothing says January quite like a common cold or a bad flu. But it doesn’t have to be that way. These seven superfoods have been around for a long time—some since ancient Egypt—and they still work against today’s modern germs. Here’s why.
Ginger is an ancient superfood with a long history of medicinal uses. It is best known for aiding digestion, reducing nausea and—for our purposes today—fighting the common cold and flu. This powerful antioxidant promotes sweating, which helps your body flush out bad toxins. Just be sure to stay hydrated. Ginger also has anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve the aches and pains so often associated with sinus congestion and flu. Plus, fresh ginger inhibits the growth of bacteria, fights respiratory infections and strengthens the immune system.
New to ginger? Try slicing about an inch of fresh ginger root and adding it to hot water with lemon and raw honey. This all-natural tea is good for whatever ails you.
Valued since ancient times for its health benefits, garlic is another superfood that will help you get through the cold and flu season fast. Fresh garlic has a secret ingredient called allicin. This active component of garlic is antibacterial, antibiotic and antifungal. It helps cleanse your body of toxins, build immunity and relieve cold and flu symptoms. One clove of raw garlic packs a punch (both to your breath and your immune system). It is high in manganese, vitamin B6 and vitamin C, all of which are necessary for reducing the number of sick days—and preventing it from coming back.
If chewing on a clove of garlic makes you cringe, try adding raw garlic to your salad dressings or sautée it lightly in your next stir fry, soup or stew. Folklore even suggests rubbing raw garlic on the sole of your foot to absorb the medicinal properties when you just can’t stomach it.
Stock your fridge with organic lemons this cold and flu season—they will soon be your best friend. Lemon is an excellent source of vitamin C and helps build and maintain your immune system. It also prevents the growth of bacterial infections, reduces pain and inflammation and helps your body balance pH levels.
Add lemon to your water to promote hydration and boost electrolytes when fighting and recovering from a cold or flu. Staying hydrated helps your body flush toxins out, smooths the digestive tract and replenishes fluids lost in fighting a bad flu.
Forget cough syrups and lozenges, raw honey is a great, all-natural cough suppressant. Just like cough syrups, it soothes and coats your throat, but also promotes antioxidants, boosts your immune system and increases disease-fighting polyphenols in your blood. Having a spoonful of honey before bed causes your brain to produce melatonin, a natural sleep aid. We all know how important rest is when battling something. Raw local honey should not to be confused with commercial honey, which is heavily processed, often chemically refined and void off many health benefits.
Turmeric is another powerful ancient spice and happens to be in the same family as ginger. This bright orange dried rhizome contains curcumin, which is an antioxidant known for its inflammatory-fighting and pain-relieving powers. Try slicing or grating turmeric root into your lemon, honey and ginger tea, or adding dried turmeric to a spoonful of honey before bed. Interestingly, the combination of turmeric and black pepper helps the body extract the cold-fighting properties of turmeric more effectively.
Apple Cider Vinegar
After a bad bout of the flu and often a round of harsh antibiotics, apple cider vinegar and other fermented foods will help your gut get back to health. The natural bacteria culture in apple cider vinegar boosts the number of good digestive enzymes and probiotics in your gut. This will help you rebuild a healthy digestive tract, absorb essential nutrients and get back to health quicker. Kombucha, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi are a few other naturally fermented foods to consider adding to your diet during the cold and flu season.
Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup
Not only is homemade chicken noodle soup a key comfort food when you’re feeling sick and sorry for yourself, the liquid broth also helps fight colds. The hot liquid causes increased blood flow to your sinuses, helping to flush out congestion and relieving sinus pressure. The warm bone broth is both hydrating and full of salts that are essential in replacing lost electrolytes.
A final word to the wise: many of the items on this list are superfoods for a reason. Be sure to practice moderation and caution when adding these new foods to your diet. Do some research before eating a clove of garlic a day or adding turmeric to your diet, for instance.