The Flu-Fighter’s Pantry

It’s the heart of flu season, which means we’re drinking lots of water, staying home to rest at the first sign we might be getting ill, and turning to the kitchen pantry for immunity-boosting foods. We’re giving you our favorite tips to make symptoms less severe and shorten sick days.

Bring on the beans
Instead of reaching for a zinc tablet next time you feel the flu coming on, cook up a batch of beans. They’re a good natural source of this important mineral that strengthens your immune system, reduces the severity of your symptoms, and helps you heal more quickly.

Chase a chill with chiles
Any sort of hot pepper, from cayenne to jalapeño to pepper flakes, can get your blood flowing, which helps flush out toxins. Anyone who’s experienced a runny nose after eating a particularly hot salsa knows how chiles can break down mucus and reduce congestion. There’s also evidence that capsaicin can help relieve headaches and body aches.

Comfort your cold with citrus
It’s a happy coincidence that flu season aligns with the time of year when citrus is at its peak. Give your immune system a boost with vitamin C—packed oranges, grapefruits, lemons, and limes.

Grab the ginger
Mighty ginger is a veritable pharmacy of flu-fighting goodness. It has antibacterial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties and can help relieve pain and nausea and clear a congested head.

Heal with honey
For sweet relief from many flu symptoms, honey is the golden ticket. It may have antiviral properties and has been found to be an effective cough suppressant and sleep aid. Honey can also soothe a dry, scratchy throat.

Mend with mint 
Hot tea made with fresh mint can soothe a cough and relieve a stuffy nose. The herb has antioxidant, antimicrobial, and antiviral properties and can help settle an upset stomach.

Treat your aches with turmeric
Curcumin, the same compound that gives turmeric its brilliant gold color, has been compared to ibuprofen in its ability to relieve some of the aches and pains associated with the flu. It also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that may help speed your recovery.