It is that time of year again — cold and flu season! For some of us it’s the change in seasons, and for others it’s the holiday hustle and bustle.
Inevitably, one thing or another takes its toll on our immune system and we’re down for the count. But before you run to the pharmacy, consider taking a page out of Grandma’s book. Some of those classic concoctions that have been around for years are really medicine in disguise.
This cold and flu season, trade in your pills for some of Grandma’s home remedies to boost your immunity. After all, Grandma knows best.
1. Chicken soup
This grandmother classic has some delicious immune boosting powers. Homemade chicken soup is rich in cysteine, an amino acid that closely resembles the chemical structure to a bronchitis drug used to help reduce inflammation.
Chicken soup is also high in zinc, a mineral that helps to strengthen your immune system and may reduce the length of a cold. What’s not to love about this dish?
2. Orange juice
Thirst-quenching and cold-suppressing. As I am sure you know, orange juice is loaded with vitamin C. Studies have shown that vitamin C helps reduce cold duration.
And it takes just minutes to squeeze your own OJ!
3. Tea with honey and lemon
Scratchy throat? The warm tea will sooth your throat while the antimicrobial and antioxidant-rich honey helps your immune system fight off the virus. Add a squeeze of lemon for a boost of vitamin C!
Maybe your grandmother transformed these berries into jam or added them to her scones. For hundreds of years the elderberry has been used as medicine to boost the immune system, fight off the flu, help with sinus pain, and reduce inflammation.
This berry is great in pies, muffins, and jams, or make it into a syrup for a pick-me-up when you feel a cold coming on. No time to make jam or bake? Elderberry syrup is a common staple in most health food stores.
5. Sauerkraut and pickles
These fermented foods contain probiotics, aka the “good” bacteria. These bacteria help strengthen the immune system and fight off infections and virus — not just in the gut — but in the whole body!
Other foods such as yogurt, kefir, tempeh, and kombucha are loaded with these powerful bacteria.
My Grandmother loves it, my mother loves it, and I triple-heart love it! I grew up eating garlic in almost every dish, not knowing that I was helping my immune system fight off pesky colds. Garlic is an immune-boosting superstar. In its raw form garlic has antibiotic properties compliments of the phytonutrient allicin.
If you can’t stomach eating cloves of raw garlic, try adding garlic to your salad dressings or make a batch of bruschetta loaded with this tasty bulb.
7. Hot peppers
These peppers are loaded with capsaicin, the compound responsible for the spicy kick. Capsaicin is also a decongestant, helping to relieve a stuffy nose.
Try adding this pepper to your soup or chili for an extra health kick.
During cold winter months, it’s inviting to start the day with a steamy bowl of oatmeal — another immune-boosting rock star. Oats contain beta glucan, selenium, and zinc, which help support immune functionand fend off colds and infections.
Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt to your oatmeal for an extra immune boost.
Check out my recipe for baked oatmeal to start your morning off right.
It’s called sage advice for a reason. The ancient herb is a powerful antiviral that you can use to treat a sore throat, stuffy nose, or persistent cough.
Brew in a tea or add to a broth to help strengthen your immune system in these cold months.
I hope your grandmother’s chicken soup recipe had mushrooms in it! If not, maybe this is where modern practice meets older traditions. Certain mushrooms such as shiitake, enoki, and maitake have antiviral properties. Add these mushroom to your soups for another immune-enhancing element.
With food as your medicine, and the comfort of some of grandma’s home remedies, you might just stop cold and flu season in its tracks — or at least make it much more enjoyable.