There aren’t universal foods that boost the immune system for everyone. Some people do well by eating oranges, others are better off eating meat.
Thus, those generalized lists of foods that boost the immune system circulating on the internet may not be helpful for you. Sorry, you cannot boost your immune system simply by adding a pinch of a garlic powder to your daily routine and expect chronic colds, painful sinusitis, and all autoimmune diseases to magically disappear.
How to boost the immune system the right way
Your immune system is a huge machine that relies on many organs and system: the gut muscosa, lymphatic fluid, thymus, tonsils, appendix, bone marrow, and spleen. Each and every one of those organs perform a different function and, not surprisingly, require different set of nutrients.
Why foods for recurrent colds are different than for ear infections?
Think about it. A cold makes you feel cold. Sinus makes your nose hot. The first one is triggered by a virus, the other one is triggered by bacteria. Both cause inflammation, but of different nature:
- cold = not enough heat (cold body and no fever) vs
- sinusitis = too much heat (hot nose and possibly fever)
If you don’t use the same clothing in summer and winter, why should your immune system do. The immune system uses different pathways to battle different conditions, thus requires different nutrients and foods to succeed.
Here is a chart that lists foods for different immune system situations
Best foods to boost immune system for recurrent colds
What happens when you get a common cold? This is what happens: your body gets stuck in a chilly mode. Your hands and feet get cold as if from poor circulation. You also get low blood pressure, which does not help you feel better. The opposite, low blood pressure further aggravates your discomfort by adding brain fog, low blood sugar, fatigue and light-headedness to the already discomforted you.
Common cold virus loves cold body and it’s job is to keep you cold. It will thrive on you eating cold foods and going into cold places. So, why not make things a bit more difficult for the evil soul?
Did you notice that any warm food, whether a hot soup, a freshly brewed tea, or chili has that magic effect on waking up a cold body? But of course! Warmth increases the metabolic rate, revs up circulation, and boost the immune system (that is lacking the defensive spark).
How to permanently get rid of viruses
Warm foods are a great way to boost the immune system on a whim, but what do you do when you seem to be a virus magnet, regardless of the season?
Actually, there are quite a few tricks you can do to make your immune system iron-strong. Just grab a copy of Ousting Sniffles, and say goodbye to colds, flus, and other nastiness.
Now, let’s get back to foods that boost immune system. Did you know that everything we eat carry a thermal signature? That means some foods make you feel colder, some make you feel warmer.
However, you need to know that different viruses like different body temperatures. Thus, aiming to drink warming ginger tea or cooling banana smoothies day in and day out may have different (sometimes undesirable) microbial consequences.
Which foods to avoid during chills and frequent colds
Here is a list of what to avoid for people with low temperature or those with runny noses. If these “avoid” foods happen to be your staples and you “can’t live without them”, then at least neutralize their cold energy by adding warming spices, or using other techniques. Here is one example.
You just came back from having fun on an ice rink. You are cold and starving, but your kitchen is empty. Only a few lonely apples sit on the counter. Should you eat them?
If you do, you may feel even more cold and succumb to a virus, but if you take a few minutes to bake the apples with a dash of cinnamon, you can be a winner. You managed to changed cold to warm and consequently you are to eat foods that boost your immune system, rather than making it worse.
- Cold grains: amaranth, barley, buckwheat, millet, wheat
- Super cold grains: wheat germ
- Cold vegetables: artichoke, cucumber, kelp, lettuce, radish, spinach, swiss-chard
- Super cold vegetables: asparagus, bamboo shoot, dandelion leaf, plantain, seaweed, tomato, water chestnut
- Cold fruits: apple, avocado, black current, orange, pear, strawberry, tangerine
- Super cold fruits: banana, cranberry, grapefruit, lemon, lime, mango, melon, mulberry, rhubarb, watermelon
Below is a more detailed chart (includes spices, condiments, beverages, beans, nuts, seeds, fish, meat, and dairy) listing of cooling foods. Download it, print it and post it on your fridge. Your nose will thank you for it.
Best foods to boost immune system for recurrent colds
Now you know what foods to avoid not to chill yourself any further. In a minute you will know what foods to eat to get yourself warmer. Study the list. Maybe you will find out that warming up your body is a simple as trading banana for peach and swapping wheat bread for oatmeal. Using warm foods regularly can increase your body temperature and stop the vicious cycle of “eat healthy – get colds”.
Here is a short list of food warmers:
- Warm grains: oats, quinoa, spelt
- Warm vegetables: kale, leek, mustard, onion, parsnip, pepper, squash, sweet potato, watercress
- Warm fruits: blackberry, cherry, date, lychee, peach, quince
What about foods that boost immune system during inflammation?
Warm and hot foods warm the body. They are good at boosting the immune system when the body is cold, but they aren’t the best during a high fever.
Inflammation, or the way the body defends, cleans, and repairs itself, creates heat. Inflammation is the main weapon of our defense system, so suppressing inflammation is not always the best idea. You should let the fever do its job.
Whether you eat cold or hot foods during inflammation should not depend as much on the type of a problem you have, but whether you want to increase or decrease inflammation.
Judge your inflammation to pick the right foods
Be a good judge of what your body needs. Eat accordingly. Hot foods make the body hotter and can magnify inflammation. Do you want to eat black pepper by the bucket when your thermometer is about to burst? Maybe not.
But sometimes you want to add more heat to the body to facilitate the inflammatory process. Such is a case when inflammation is too weak to be effective. For example, eating hot foods may help with low-grade sinusitis that does not want to go away.
- How to recognize a weak immune system
- Five ways to boost immunity
- Recurring colds – low blood sugar connection
When to eat what
Foods can boost the immune system in many different ways. They can provide nutrients, antioxidants, natural antibiotics, as well as provide a thermal effect.
It can be overwhelming to want to comprehend all the food-immune system interactions, so don’t bother. Even science hasn’t figured everything out.
For now, just remember the simple rule: when cold use warming foods and when hot (inflammation or fever) stick to cooling foods. That’s that simple. Stick hot/cold charts on your fridge or your phone to have a quick reference.
For a more detailed, step by step guide to building an iron-strong immune system, grab a copy of Ousting Sniffles. You may never need to buy Kleenex again.