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Foods That Boost Your Immune System When You're Ill

By Paul Rothbart

No one wants to be sick, but it does happen periodically. Colds, flu, just feeling a bit under the weather. These things are generally not life-threatening, but they keep us from other things and are not enjoyable. Fighting illness is the job of the immune system and in a healthy individual, it does that job well. There are things we can do to help the immune system during illness. One of the best is eating well. Here are some foods that are known to boost the immune system.

Chicken Soup

Chicken soup is the classic food for sick people. It's not just an old wives tale. Chicken soup is a great way to help the immune system fight illness. The broth helps prevent dehydration which is common when sick. The chicken provides protein and iron, while the vegetables and herbs contain important nutrients for fighting sickness. In fact, chicken soup is a good idea as your main food throughout an illness. Be careful of the salt content. This can exacerbate dehydration.


It isn't just chicken broth that is helpful. Beef, vegetable, or any flavor of broth will give you the same benefits. Choose your favorite flavor. Just as with chicken soup, broth will help you stay hydrated. The warmth can also relieve congestion and soothe a sore throat. It's easy to consume as well. You can drink it from a mug.


Garlic probably doesn't come immediately to mind as a food for when you're sick but it has been used in alternative medicine for centuries. A study in which adults with the flu were given garlic supplements found that the symptoms of the subjects declined in severity and their immune systems were enhanced. Raw garlic works as well as supplements. It is a good idea to eat some garlic at the first sign of illness.

Fruits With Vitamin C

The immune-enhancing capabilities  of Vitamin C are well-documented. You can get it from supplements but your body will absorb it faster from food. Any of the citrus fruits are excellent sources of Vitamin C. You can also get it from strawberries, blueberries, and pineapple. For a more savory source, tomatoes are excellent. Choose the food that you enjoy most.

Leafy Greens

Leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale also contain Vitamin C and thus boost the immune system. Additionally, they are rich in Vitamin E, another nutrient that gives an immune boost. You can blend them into a smoothie to make them easy to consume or put some in your chicken soup.

When you're sick, you want to recover quickly. By eating these foods during the course of the illness, you will give your immune system the boost it needs to get you back on your feet.

To learn more about your health, wellness and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in Saint Peters, Mo.

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