Foods to boost your immunity (and make you feel better when you’re under the weather)

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Yea, yea, yea, we all know that chicken soup is the standard go-to when you’re feeling under the weather. And, sure enough, chicken soup has been clinically shown to ease cold suffering; a particular amino acid in the steam helps clear out nasal passages, and the broth reduces inflammation. But I’ve been thinking that with COVID-19 out there it was time to up the ante.

As I was doing research for this post, I couldn’t stop myself from concocting a dish with all the ingredients. Reading through this list is like deconstructing one of the amazing brothy soups we couldn’t get enough of while we were traveling in Southeast Asia last year.

If you do end up contracting COVID-19, odds are good you’ll experience mild flu-like symptoms or feel like you’ve got a bad cold. So here are some ingredients to stock to boost your immunity to fight off the virus, and to help you get — and feel — better sooner if you do get it.

Let’s dig in:

  • Garlic — Don’t you love finding out your favorite ingredients work overtime to keep you healthy? That is certainly the case with garlic. Garlic’s high sulfur content (which makes it so lovely and stinky) is a natural purifier that ushers toxins out of the system and boosts immunity.

    But it’s also a powerful antibiotic. Some Petri dish studies even show it performing as well as, or in the case of antibiotic-resistant bacteria … better than, prescription antibiotics like penicillin and tetracycline.
  • Ginger — Ginger is a soothing, warming spice that stimulates blood flow (ever notice how you sweat when drinking ginger tea?) and calms the tummy. The compounds in ginger are both anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. They’re so powerful, in fact, that they’re being studied as a preventative to food poisoning.
  • Cinnamon — Cinnamon is another wonder spice. Its antimicrobial and antifungal properties are so effective that the food industry is playing with what they call “active packaging”; adding cinnamaldehyde, one of the active compounds in cinnamon, to food packaging in order to prevent contamination.
  • Cloves — Cloves are helpful with colds for a few reasons; one being the fact that they’re a natural anesthetic (if you’ve ever had a toothache and used clove oil, you’ll know what I’m talking about). They also have strong antimicrobial properties. Studies inoculating fresh salmon with listeria have proven that cloves (in this case, clove oil) inhibit the growth of the pathogen.
  • Star Anise — Traditionally, star anise has been used to treat stomach pain. New evidence, however, shows that it too is a strong, natural antibiotic.
  • Chiles — Chiles stimulate the body and cleanse the blood. They’re also high in vitamins C and A … two strong antioxidants essential to fighting off colds.

I don’t know about you, but this list makes me hungry. Use it as a catalyst for your cooking. Add a few more cloves of garlic to a stir fry, for instance, or star anise, cloves, and cinnamon to a stew.

For many cultures, the healing qualities and unique flavor of these spices are inseparable; people inherently reach both for what tastes best and for what makes them feel best. Now you can too.