Flu season is upon us, which creates an opportunity to look at our diet and see where we can add immune boosting foods.  Did you know you could boost immunity with a plant-based diet to avoid the nasty flu? There are various foods we can find at the local grocery store to help us on our way to better health.

Mushrooms: Reishi, shiitake, turkey tails, and maitake (also known as hen of the woods) are great options. These varieties are powerful and deep nourishers for the immune system. They are said to help kill viruses and bacteria and strengthen the efficiency of the immune system. Maitake and shiitake are both delicious and available in fresh form. They can also be purchased dried; this route may prove more cost effective with the added bonus of being shelf stable. Maitakes and shiitakes can be used in all of your favorite mushroom recipes. A couple easy ideas are a simple sauté in butter or oil of your choice and adding to a stir-fry or breakfast scramble. It’s currently soup and stew season, so why not add these immune boosting fungi to the pot? Reishi and turkey tails are not as tasty to add to your diet. The most readily available form is powder, which can easily be added to tea or any smoothie recipe. Foraging for mushrooms can be a fun and fulfilling activity (plus a great reason to get outside). Some of the immune boosting varieties are found in the United States.  ALWAYS check with an expert before consuming anything you forage and remember to harvest sustainably.

Garlic, Ginger, Honey: These immune boosting foods are found in almost any grocery store and easy on the wallet. They are said to be anti-viral and anti-bacterial. The key to cashing in on the power of these foods is to consume them fresh and uncooked. This may seem unthinkable with garlic, but it gets easier with practice. Try raw garlic in salad dressing, smoothies, or add to your soup bowl after cooking. Fresh, raw ginger is a wonderful addition to tea, juice, and smoothies. Honey is the easiest and most enjoyable to add to our diets. It is important to find raw, unpasteurized honey preferably from local bees. As long as the honey is not cooked, you can consume in any of your favorite ways. A delicious and easy hot beverage for flu season is peeled then chopped fresh ginger, fresh lemon juice, raw honey, and hot water. Try adding a pinch of cayenne for increased warming and an extra zip.

Fire Cider: This immune boosting tonic is a folk remedy growing today in popularity. Fire cider is said to be anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, a decongestant, and digestive aid. An added bonus to fire cider is it is easy to make at home; the ingredients can be adapted based on personal preference. The most widely used ingredients are garlic, ginger, onion, horseradish root, chili peppers, apple cider vinegar, and honey. The plant material infuses the apple cider vinegar for 4-6 weeks. After that time, the mixture is strained and honey is added to taste. This mixture may not sound appetizing, but the result is sweet, pungent, sour, and hot. It really is an interesting combination. Check with your doctor before starting a new diet or before adding fire cider to your immunity plan.  A traditional dose is 1 tablespoon a day during flu season. Not to worry if the taste is not your thing, try diluting in water, juice, tea, salad dressing, marinade, or soups. There are countless possibilities for additions to fire cider such as turmeric, citrus, thyme, rosemary, and cinnamon. Create a batch and use your palate to guide a personalized recipe.

We hope these tips will help you stay healthy during flu season. Do you have other immune boosting foods you add to your diet during flu season? Tell our team at Eat, Heal, Travel via our Twitter or Facebook page.


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