Flu- And Cold-Fighting Foods
November 12, 2013

Flu- And Cold-Fighting Foods

As I write this article, I am home from work ill. It is likely just a cold, but it is a whopper. So, I was fiddling around on the Internet when I came across an article on Walgreens Health about eight foods that help prevent and fight the flu and cold. I thought since I am so miserable, I would try to help others prepare for this year’s flu and cold season. So, let’s take a look at the foods Walgreens Health suggests.


Yep, that is right. Those little fungi are just what our systems need to help us combat the nasties. As the article explains, Tufts University researchers gave mice mushroom powder for ten weeks and found that the immune system activities increased. The good news is that the simple white button mushrooms found at any grocer do the trick as might shiitake and reishi.

Mushrooms are an easy add-in to most dishes. Slice them for a salad or to pump up a red sauce. Add them to soups or sandwiches or just eat them raw. They are tasty and add muscles to our immune systems.


Black and green tea are great morning choices during the winter months because they boost immune cells, which then go forth and fight germs. The phytochemicals called alkylamines are what researchers believe are most helpful in boosting the immune. So instead of that cup of bean, take in some leaves for your morning caffeine and immunity.


Because research has shown that those low in vitamin D counts were more susceptible to cold and flu infections, many suggest boosting the intake of it. Salmon is a great food for that, plus it is high in protein and fish oils. Other foods high in vitamin D are swordfish, tuna, fortified orange juice, and fortified milk. Natural sunlight is the ideal source, although that is not as easy to attain during the winter months.


Oh boy! Do I love apples…which is why I am so happy to read that they are on the list of foods to eat for preparation and fighting the flu and cold. As the Walgreens Health article puts it, “Apples are one of the best sources of the antioxidant quercetin. (Antioxidant-rich foods strengthen your ability to fight infection and disease.) The fruit may improve immunity and keep you healthy even when you’re feeling physically worn down.” Apples are tasty and oh-so good for us, which is why we really should eat more of them. Plus, if they help us deal with the cold and flu seasons, then sign me up for even more!


Oysters have lots of zinc in them, and zinc has long been known for its crucial role in fighting infections. If this shellfish is not something you can ingest, then check out beef, crab, lobster, and fortified breakfast cereals.


Oh, how wonderful is garlic? It is good for our circulation, heart health, and digestion. Now, we know it is also beneficial for fighting bacteria, fungi, and viruses. It is most beneficial and potent in its raw form, but cooking it still provides some of the goods. Garlic is like mushrooms—it easily goes with everything. For raw, Walgreens Health suggests spreading it over toast or chopping it with cilantro and avocados for guacamole. For cooking, add it to red sauces, soups, casseroles, or just about anything. It will enhance the flavor and enhance health.

Butternut Squash

Butternut Squash is high in beta carotene, which our bodies convert into vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the body to develop infection-fighting cells. So eat more carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, and other orange veggies, but don’t forget to get kale, spinach, and green leaf lettuce for beta carotene.


Since the majority of our immune system rests within our gut health, having healthy gut flora is crucial to staying healthy during the cold and flu season. Yogurt with live and active cultures helps our guts stay healthy and, well, active. This in turn helps us to stay healthy and combat the icks.

Now, I do eat most of these foods on a regular basis, yet I am still writing this home with the ickies. But, as I stated in the intro above, I rarely come down with any illnesses—bacteria, fungi, or virus. Yes, I am ill today, but on the whole I am not, and I would like to think part of that has to do with the above-mentioned foods. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am going to grab an apple.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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