Can't Take a Sick Day? These 9 Superfoods Can Make You Feel Better RN

woman with cold

Cue the Jaws theme, because cold and flu season is fast-approachin'. And let's be honest -- when you're juggling kids and work and the rest of your roller coaster life, sometimes there's no way you can take a sick day.

In that case, here's plan B: pumping as much nourishment into your body as possible. Specifically, foods that boost your immune system, relieve symptoms, and will have you feeling better fast.

Click through so you know what to have on hand in your pantry before you start feeling like s**t.


Image via Tirachard Kumtanom/Shutterstock

  • Garlic


    In a double blind study, meaning neither the participants nor the experimenters knew who was getting what, volunteers who took a daily garlic supplement were less likely to get a cold, notes Debra Nessel, RD, CDE, a registered dietitian with Torrance Memorial Medical Center in Torrance, California. "They also recovered faster if they did become sick," she says. To that end, "add garlic to soups, stews, and salads for an extra immune boost," Nessel advises.

  • Bone Broth


    "When cooked, the collagen in bones breaks down and, as it cools, turns into a protein called gelatin," explains Nessel. While not a complete protein, it contains several important amino acids which may boost your immune system. (At the very least, it WILL relieve nasal congestion and inflammation.) Store bone broth in your fridge. "When you want some, heat it up and sip it from a mug like coffee or tea," says Nessel. Eight ounces per day should keep viruses at bay.

  • Onions


    During the bubonic plague of the 14th century, people used onions to try to "absorb" all those deadly germs. Needless to say, it didn't work out the way they hoped. But it is possible that onions have antihistamine and anti-inflammatory properties, so stock up. (But make sure you eat them, not hang them from your windows.)

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  • Citrus Fruit


    "Citrus fruits contain high concentrations of vitamin C, which can help ward off common colds," Nessel says. She notes the results of one study in which participants who faithfully took 500 mg of vitamin C every day reduced their risk of contracting 3+ colds over the next five years by an impressive 60 percent.

  • Ginger


    Whether you prefer yours fresh, dried, pickled, candied, or ground, "ginger contains potent chemicals which target stuffy noses and works to suppress coughs," says Nessel. Don't just take our word for it. This medicinal herb's been put to the test for thousands of years.

  • Fermented Foods


    "Yogurt, kefir, pasteurized pickles, kimchi, and kombucha are packed with prebiotics," says Nessel. Prebiotics support the growth of good bacteria in your body which in turn "helps balance your digestion, immunity, and metabolism," Nessel says.

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  • Fatty Fish


    Next time you're starting to feel sick, try a tuna melt. "Fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, and mackerel are rich with omega-3 fatty acids, which suppress inflammation," says Nessel. "In a recent study, researchers found that fish oil rich in DHA increases white blood cell function and select antibody production, aiding in the fight against invasive bacteria."

  • Brazil Nuts


    Brazil nuts (which are technically seeds of a gigantic tree that grows in the Amazon jungle) make this list because they're a great source of selenium. Selenium, Nessel explains, "is a trace mineral that boosts the production of cytokine -- proteins that support the immune system -- and helps your body respond to bacteria and viruses that invade during cold and flu season."

  • Green Tea


    Oddly, you don't even have to sip green tea to reap its benefits. One study found that participants who simply gargled the fresh-brewed stuff were less likely to catch the flu. That's likely due to green tea's catechins -- antioxidants that fight against cell damage. A bonus: Besides fighting off colds and flu, catechins can prevent heart-related problems, help stabilize blood sugar, and even protect your memory.

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