At this time of year, it is easy to catch a cold or flu, but there are also certain foods and nutrients that can help keep our immune system healthy and help us recover quickly if we become ill.

Adequately feeding our immune system keeps our fighter white bloods cells called neutrophils healthy.  Foods we enjoy on a daily basis have a variety of healing properties and can actually help speed our recovery from the common cold or flu.  Keep your body healthy by incorporating these immune boosting and flu fighting foods into your diet.  Consider trying my tasty Mushroom Soup for the Soul recipe that incorporates several of these immune friendly foods.

Top cold and flu healing foods:

Citrus fruits.  Enjoy sliced oranges, snack on grapefruit, add lemon to your tea.  These foods are all high in vitamin C.  Vitamin C tops the list of immune boosters for many reasons.  Vitamin C increases the production of infection-fighting white blood cells, neutrophils and increases levels of an antibody called interferon that coats cell surfaces, preventing the entry of viruses. It is also a natural antihistamine that can help clear blocked nasal passages and provide quick natural relief to the cold sufferer.

Apples. The saying “an apple a day will keep the doctor away” certainly has an element of truth.  Apples contain an anti-inflammatory compound called quercitin which brings relief to swollen eyes and mucous membranes.  Quercitin is found in highest levels right near the skin of the apple, so don’t bother peeling!

Hot chocolate.  Have a mug of hot cocoa to boost your calcium intake. Calcium can provide relief to sore aching muscles because it plays an important role in normal muscle contraction and relaxation.

Chicken soup.  Homemade chicken soup has been shown to contain a number of substances with medicinal properties and is often referred to as nature’s penicillin.  Hot chicken soup has been known to clear clogged airways.

Ginger. A proven natural anti nausea remedy. Try adding fresh sliced ginger root to smoothies or make “ginger tea” by pouring boiling water over peeling sliced ginger to calm an upset stomach.

Opt for whole grain bread, cereal, pasta and rice.  These complex carbohydrates increase serotonin levels in the brain resulting in a feeling of relaxation and the ability to achieve a more restful sleep.  Sleep is medicine for the body to fight infection and speed recovery.

Water.  Remember to stay well hydrated with plenty of fluids to thin mucous secretions and help flush infections and toxins from the body.

Garlic. Garlic acts as a natural antibiotic and antiviral agent because it contains sulphur compounds.  It also contains allicin, a natural decongestant that is particularly effective in treating upper respiratory viral infections due to its ability to clear mucous from the lungs. Add near the end of cooking or use raw to obtain the most health benefits.

Onions. Onions are a very rich source of inulin fibre that promotes the growth of health-friendly bacteria in the colon and increases immune function.

Mushrooms. A staple crop in most herbal medicine chests, mushrooms increase the production of  cells that help fight off infections. White mushrooms have been shown to decrease inflammation, enhance healthy bacteria in the digestive tract to fight infection.

Mushroom Soup for the Soul


3 cups white mushrooms, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 medium white potato, peeled and chopped

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp Chinese five spice

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

2 cups chicken stock

2 cups milk


Step 1

Wash mushrooms thoroughly and slice.  Peel and chop onion, garlic, and potato.

Step 2

Sauté onion, chopped mushroom, and potato in vegetable oil in a large heavy pot for 10 minutes on medium heat until onion is clear and mushrooms are very soft.  Add ground pepper, Chinese five spice, salt and finely chopped garlic and saute for an additional minute.

Step 3

Add 2 cups of chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes until potato is soft and a fork can be easily inserted.

Step 4

Add 2 cups of milk and purée half the soup with an immersion blender or in a traditional blender. Mix in 1/4 cup of fresh chopped parsley.

Makes approximately 6-8 servings.