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Immune-Boosting Foods for COVID and Flu Recovery

As the New Year unfolds, so does the season of sickness, with ailments like COVID-19, flu, and the common cold affecting many. 

The discomfort brought by these illnesses can be alleviated by choosing the right foods. Beth Czerwony, a registered dietitian with Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Human Nutrition, emphasizes the healing power of food in improving immunity and alleviating symptoms.

Easy-to-Prepare Foods for Illness Relief

 Here’s a guide to some of the best foods that require minimal preparation and can provide relief during illness.

  • Soup: A Comforting Elixir

Soup, especially chicken soup, is not just warm and comforting but has research-backed benefits. It can reduce inflammation caused by colds and flu, provide essential protein, and help soothe sore throats. Broths with added vegetables like onions, kale, and broccoli enhance nutrient content, while ingredients like sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and carrots contribute anti-inflammatory beta-carotene.

  • Tea: Hydration and Soothing Warmth

Hydration is crucial when sick, and herbal tea serves as an excellent alternative to sugary drinks or caffeinated beverages. Herbal tea acts as a natural decongestant, soothes sore throats, and helps maintain hydration. Adding lemon or orange to tea can further aid in fighting inflammation.

  • Spices: Health-Boosting Flavors

Cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric are praised for their positive health effects. Ginger aids digestion, cardamom and cinnamon have anti-inflammatory properties, and turmeric can provide relief from gastrointestinal issues. Cayenne pepper may help with sinus congestion and digestion.

  • Honey: Nature’s Cough Suppressant

Honey acts as a cough suppressant, reducing the severity and frequency of coughs. Incorporating honey into warm water, tea, or consuming a teaspoon before bed can provide relief. It is a suitable alternative for children who are too young for cough medicine (excluding those under age one).

  • Citrus Fruits: Vitamin C Powerhouses

Oranges, apples, and grapefruit are rich in vitamin C, supporting the immune system and potentially shortening the duration of a cold. Their high water content also aids hydration. However, those with upset stomachs should be cautious due to the acidity of citrus fruits.

  • Fermented Foods: Probiotic-rich Choices

Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, yogurt, kefir, and kombucha contain probiotics, promoting digestive health and bolstering the immune system. These foods diversify the gut microbiome, essential for overall well-being.

  • Popsicles or Ice Cream: Hydration for All Ages

Especially for children, popsicles or ice cream can provide hydration and soothe a sore throat. They are helpful if children are reluctant to consume whole foods during illness.

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The Healing Power of Nutrition

As the New Year unfolds, so does the season of sickness, with ailments like COVID-19, flu, and the common cold affecting many.

Navigating illness is never easy, but choosing the right foods can provide comfort and relief. From nourishing soups and hydrating teas to immunity-boosting spices and soothing honey, these easily prepared options offer both nutrients and comfort during times of sickness.

Prioritizing hydration and nutrient-packed foods ensures a swifter recovery and eases the discomfort of being unwell.

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