Here's the bottom line: Even though there do seem to be specific foods that fight off colds and flu, it is eating a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods that will boost your immune system and help you the most. That being said, here we go!
Yep, Bubby was right! Researchers have found that eating chicken soup can help fight flu and colds. First of all, soup helps you stay hydrated, which, of course, is essential to fighting sickness. According to www.dailyburn.com, since hot chicken soup raises the body's temperature, it helps loosen mucus secretions. In addition, the chicken itself, when cooked, releases an amino acid called cysteine which, the website says, "resembles a drug used to treat bronchitis." To boot, one also gets the benefits of all the vegetables used to make the soup, which in itself is an immunity booster.
So, here's my favorite chicken soup recipe, the one I make every Shabbos:
1 whole pack of chicken thighs or quarters
1 large onion, chopped
5 stalks of celery, checked and chopped
1 5- lb bag of carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large cloves of chopped garlic (see next section to gain maximum benefit of garlic to fight colds and flu)
Some or all of these chopped vegetables: rutabaga, turnips, sweet potatoes (immunity booster), fennel (big immunity booster against colds and flu), tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
Put chicken and vegetables in a soup pot and fill with water until about 3/4 full. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then turn down heat to low. Here is a little trick: slow cook the soup for several hours. When the broth cooks down, the vegetables, particularly the carrots, caramelize, which is absolutely delicious!
Garlic is a great immunity booster. It contains allicin, a chemical compound which is found to help the body fight bacteria and viruses. Allicin is released when garlic is finely chopped or crushed. In order to derive the most benefit from garlic's medicinal properties, it is best to eat it raw. Of course, many of us cringe at the thought of garlic's punget taste, not to mention odor. Here are some ideas to lessen the pain!
**Add some crushed garlic to butter or margarine.
**Add minced garlic to salad dressings. I often put some chopped garlic in my vinaigrette dressing
and it adds a nice spicy punch. Truthfully, you could probably add minced or chopped garlic to just about any salad dressing and it would enhance its flavor.
**Make an olive oil bread dip and add finely chopped garlic.
To make: combine 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil with 1/4 tsp. each: salt, paprika, garlic and onion powder. Add the garlic and stir.
** If you just can't stomach the taste of raw garlic, try this: add the garlic right after you have cooked your dish. For example, if you are making the chicken soup above, put in the garlic at the end as it is finished cooking. This will cut down on the sharpness of the garlic without destroying the properties of the allicin.
If you are brave and eat the garlic raw, try chewing on some mint, parsley or fennel seeds (which are shown to help fight congestion, anyway) as breath fresheners.
Stay tuned...more to come in this series!
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