Top Immune Supporting Foods and Supplements to Fight the Flu
The flu has wreaked havoc on the state of Texas this year. If you haven't had the flu or don't have it now then you probably know someone who had it or is fighting it now. Unfortunately, both the common cold and the flu are viral and even a trip to the doctors office and a prescription medication is often no match. The best way to protect yourself from a virus or ensure a speedy recovery from a viral infection is by supporting your immune system. While it is normal to have a cold once a year or so; if you find yourself sick every other month it could mean that your immune system is not functioning at the capacity that it should. Here are some foods and supplements that have helped me, personally, protect and strengthen my immune system.
My top Immune Supporting Foods and Supplements to Fight the Flu
1. Bone Broth
Bone broth is essentially a glorified chicken soup or stock. If we were to ask our grandparents or great grandparents for a recipe to make soup, I can guarantee that Campbell's chicken broth was not included in the recipe. Traditionally speaking, broth or soup was made from the bones of an animal, and not from bullion cubes. 100 years ago people knew that by cooking the bones in water for long periods of time not only would the water be infused with the savory flavors of chicken bones, but it would also be infused with nutrients as well. And yes MAYBE the store bought canned broth might be good when you're sick, as it will contain sodium to help with proper hydration, but it is severely devoid of nutrients that a real broth or stock would contain. The nutrients I am referring to are primarily amino acids from the collagen and gelatin component of bones. And yes, you have probably heard of collagen before and that it is great for your hair, skin and nails as it works to strengthen tissue and promote elasticity, but it's not just good for your skin. Collagen also works to strengthen your GI tract (where your immune system starts) the same way it can strengthen skin, hair, and nails. If unfamiliar with the term "leaky gut", it essentially means the gut, or intestinal tract is more permeable than it should be. The intestinal tract should act as a tight wall as it works to protect and defend the immune system. Bone broth is a rich source of glutamine, an amino acid that can help repair any damages to the intestinal lining and act to fortify the GI tract and thus the immune system. In this aspect, bone broth can work to reverse "leaky gut". Bone broth also contains amino acids such as glycine, which can promotes relaxation and improved sleep quality. Lastly, bone broth is an excellent source of NAC or N-acetylcysteine. This sulfur containing compounds works to support detox and lung health, this is especially good to have when you are feeling under the weather! So in short "bone broth" is simply a broth created from the bones of an animal (like a chicken) and it contains all of the nutrients that are inside the bone that we don't eat. I guess my pet dog, Sully, already knows what's up! Here is a recipe for Bone Broth made in the Instant Pot.
Note: If making bone broth seems too daunting you can purchase bone broth in powder form or collagen or gelatin products on my shop page!
2. Wellness Formula by Source naturals
Rumor has it this product is even popular in Hollywood as managers and agents use it to ensure their clients did not get sick or speed up recovery. I am not entirely sure that is true but I do know that I have used this product with great success. This supplement contains high doses of minerals, vitamins, herbs and antioxidants to boost immune function. You can take this product regularly to support immune function or take at a higher dose during times where the immune system is stressed or under functioning. When I am sick or unwell I usually take 3 tablets 3-5 times daily. I should mention that this product does contain soy which is something I try to avoid but in the case of the cold or flu the reward outweighs the risk for me personally. Also please keep in mind this supplement does contain several whole food items so if you do have any food sensitivities or food allergies, you ought to be checking ingredient labels of all products before using.
3. A high quality probiotic
Keep in mind that the gatekeeper to your immune system is your GI tract which contains nearly 3-5 pounds of bacteria. A good amount of positive bacteria will act as "soldiers" to fight off and protect against negative bacteria, yeast and even viruses. A probiotic supplement can help ensure a proper balance of good bacteria to protect your immune system from infection. Ensuring intake of cultured foods like pickled vegetables or kraut would also be recommended at this time. I recommend taking your probiotic at bedtime away from food. If you are on antibiotics be sure to stagger when you take probiotics for the most benefit. Below are a few probiotic supplements I recommend:
Metagenics Ultra Flora Spectrum
Jarrow Saccharomyces Boulardi
5. HOT Herbal Tea
A simple cup of hot tea can not only relieve the chills but can also soothe and coat the throat and chest if there is any pain, drainage or congestion. I really love the "Seasonal Sampler" and the "Echinacea Plus with Elderberry" by Traditional Medicinals. I love this brand specifically as they use all organic ingredients and do not use artificial sweeteners or chemicals and many of their tea blends are geared towards immune function. Yogi brand is also a great brand of herbal tea for immune support. I specifically like the "Breath Deep", if there is congestion or drainage in the chest and it can work to calm a chest cough too. Warning: if you are not into the licorice taste most of these herbal teas will have licorice in them as it can soothe and comfort the respiratory system and reduce coughing. The Echinacea Plus with Elderberry has a very mild mint taste and does NOT contain licorice.
Lastly, if you are reading this and already have the flu or a cold, there are several other things you can do to support your immune system for a speedy recovery. First of all and most importantly, take off work or delegate tasks so that you are not infecting others and so that you can rest up and get plenty of sleep. A hot Epsom salt bath with your choice of essential oils can help to ease aches and pains and aid in breaking a fever. Soups or smoothies are ideal as they are easy to digest and concentrated in nutrients.