Foods to Fight the Flu

Northwestern Medicine
Health and Wellness January 10, 2012
Fresh FoodsWith flu season upon us, we’re all looking for ways to stay healthy. Getting a flu shot, practicing hand hygiene and staying home when sick are tried and true ways of lowering your risk of catching the flu. However, don’t underestimate the power of a nutritious diet.  An article in a recent issue of The Chicago Sun-Times highlighted nine foods that can help fight off the flu, but can eating the right things really keep us from getting sick? I asked Judy Fulop, MS, ND, a naturopathic practitioner with Northwestern Integrative Medicine, for her take.

“Optimal nutrition absolutely plays a role in boosting the immune system and can be particularly important this time of year when the body’s natural immune boosters, such as vitamin D from sunshine, are running low” said Fulop. “Our immune system developed to help take care of any viruses or bacteria that grow out of control and cause colds and flu. An overall healthy lifestyle – including exercise, proper sleep, and diet – is important in order to keep a balanced immune system that helps you stay healthy. Nutrient-rich foods, especially mushrooms, onions, garlic, carrots, and ginger, along with citrus, berries and nuts, can all help. Don’t expect these foods to work miracles on their own, but do know that they can help your body to move through a bout of a cold or flu faster.  They can also help with flu prevention and should be incorporated as part of a well-balanced nutrition plan.”

As an integrative medicine specialist, Fulop regularly works with patients to incorporate healthy choices into their lifestyle, including creating healthy eating plans that can benefit their overall health. Following is one of her favorite immune-boosting recipes:

Immune Building Soup
In a large pot add 10-20 cups of filtered or spring water with:
1 large onion
1 ½ cups of celery
½ cups fresh parsley
1 cup shitake mushrooms
1 teaspoons  cayenne pepper
1 cup chopped red peppers 
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
6 large carrots
1 large burdock root
6 - 12 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoon veggie powder
1  tablespoon powdered kelp
3 potatoes
2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
½ cup basil/herbs
5 flat sticks of astragalus root
½ of 1 parsnip
Season with turmeric, sea salt and pepper

Cook in crock pot or over stove until done. Astragalus root, cayenne, and kelp can be found in the herb section of a health food store. All ingredients strengthen the immune system.  Or you could stir fry onions, garlic, mushrooms, colored peppers, and cover with Braggs amino acids, to save time.

Along with berries, greens and nuts, the Sun-Times also recommends eating fatty fish, onions, mushrooms, yogurt, and eggs. What are your favorite recipes incorporating these foods? Share them here!
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