Foods to Fight the Flu

Posted on Friday, February 26th, 2016

Written by Megan Scarth

It’s wintertime, and by now you may be suffering from a runny nose, sore throat, and an irritating cough. And if you’re one of the lucky ones who’s remained healthy, you’ll probably want to help your immune system fight off those pesky germs.

Fortunately, there are plenty of foods that can help give your body a boost:

Foods that Contain Zinc

Zinc is an important mineral used by the immune system, and can be found in a variety of common foods. Most meats are a good source, with red meats such as beef, lamb, and bison being especially high in zinc. Pork, turkey, and chicken are also good sources. Seafood contains quite a bit of zinc as well, with oysters containing an astonishing amount: just one 2.5 oz serving of Eastern wild oysters can provide roughly six to 16 times as much zinc as required in a day!

Some common vegetarian sources of zinc include nuts and seeds, such as almonds, cashews, and peanuts, with pumpkin seeds being especially high. Soy and cereals also contain zinc, as well as dairy products like milk and cheese.


The old adage really does seem to be true: there’s scientific evidence showing that garlic does indeed have an impact on the immune system. A double-blinded 2001 study published in Advances in Therapy showed that the participants who took garlic supplements had less than half as many colds and had less than a third as many sick days than the control group. These flu-fighting effects of garlic seem to be caused by its inclusion of a compound called allicin, which is antiviral.

Echinacea Tea

Echinacea is one of the most popular herbs for treating colds, and according to a 2000 double-blinded, placebo-controlled study in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, drinking echinacea tea once you start experiencing cold and flu systems can reduce the duration of your cold as well as the severity of your symptoms. If you’re not a tea-drinker, echinacea can also be taken in pill form.

And of course, simply eating well in general will provide your body with the vitamins and minerals it needs to ensure that it’s functioning optimally, and is able to fight off those pesky viruses. So give your immune system a little boost and stay healthy this winter!

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