I wrote earlier about using food as medicine based on an article highlighting nine foods that Prevention magazine listed as boosters to our immune system.
The first three are yogurt, oats/barley, and garlic; the next three include fish, chicken soup and tea are covered here. I'll discuss beef, sweet potatoes, and mushrooms later.
Fish, chicken soup, and tea are considered immune fighting super-foods because of the following:
• Freshwater fish (particularly salmon, mackerel and herring) are known as natural sources of omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation. In addition, selenium, which is found in shellfish, helps white blood cells produce cytokines (proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body). Breastcancer.org, in its nutritional recommendations to reduce cancer risk and cancer death as well as increase quality of life, promotes a diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, mushrooms, herbs, teas, omega-3 fatty acids, complex carbohydrates, yogurt, and seaweed. These foods are believed to increase the activity of T cells and their escort cells, while increasing the production of antibodies and fighting cells.
• Chicken soup, a centuries old remedy known as Jewish penicillin, blocks the migration of inflammatory white cells and inhibitis inflammation of the cells in the nasal passage. During the cooking process, chicken releases the amino acid cysteine which chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine. The soup's salty broth also keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. If the soup has spices, garlic, and onions, there’s an additional boost to the soup's immune-boosting power. In one study, hot chicken soup was shown to induce a runny nose, which helps rid the body of pathogenic viruses and bacteria. Furthermore, hot chicken soup raises the temperature of the airways, which is important for loosening secretions.
• Tea - black or green, caffeinated or decaf - is loaded with an amino acid, L-theanine. In a Harvard study of people who drank five cups per day for two weeks, black tea produced 10 times the virus-fighting interferon in their blood.