Antiviral Foods and Home Remedies to boost your immune system, prevent viruses from spreading and improve overall lung and respiratory function.
This list of naturally antiviral, anti-inflammatory foods is essential when look for ways to live your healthiest life. Especially useful during cold and flu season and whenever trying to preventing the spread of viruses.
Immune-boosting, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, vitamin and mineral rich foods
Looking to boost your immune system with whole foods and common household items? You’ve come to the right place!
Certain foods strengthen the immune system and prevent viral infections when included as a part of an overall healthy lifestyle. So make sure to include these anti-inflammatory, antioxidant-rich, antiviral foods in your diet, get plenty of sunshine, fresh air, rest and water.
Immune boosting foods
Many vitamins and minerals are known to have immune-boosting benefits. Best obtained by a varied diet with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables rather than supplements. And have even been proven to improve lung health and decrease the risk of respiratory conditions that attack the lungs.
- Potent minerals known to boost the immune system zinc, selenium and magnesium are vital to our bodies. Shown to prevent viruses from attaching to cells and replicating zinc is most effective when taken on the onset of a cold. Reach for zinc–rich oysters, wild salmon, mushrooms and pumpkin seeds. Selenium rich mushrooms, nuts and seeds. Mushrooms are also high in Vitamin D. And nuts and seeds are also a great source of magnesium.
- Vitamin C rich foods naturally boost our immune system and speed up recovery. Enhancing our bodies ‘natural killer’ cells, aiding in white blood cell growth and flooding immune cells to viral infected areas. They are also anti inflammatory and packed with antioxidants. Reach for citrus fruits, chili peppers, orange colored fruits and vegetables, dark leafy greens
- Vitamin E reduces inflammation, boosts the immune system and promotes healthy red blood cells. Allowing the body to deliver more oxygen helping airway muscles relax you to breathe easier. Reach for nuts, seeds, leafy greens, olive oil, coconut oil
- Vitamin A in an integral part of a healthy immune system that helps our bodies fights infections. Reach for orange colored fruits and vegetables and dark leafy greens
Anti inflammatory foods
Inflammation of the airways can make breathing difficult and cause the chest to feel heavy and congested. Eating anti-inflammatory foods can reduce inflammation to relieve these symptoms and prevent pneumonia. Reach for: leafy greens, fatty fish, ginger, walnuts, cherries, turmeric.
Antioxidant rich foods
Antioxidants (like flavanoids catechin and quercetin) are important to maintaining optimal health. Fighting against environmental damage they reduce cellular oxidation and help neutralize cell-destroying free radicals. Flavonoids help treat and prevent coughs and colds, reduce the harmful effects of air pollution and may even help regulate the immune system. Reach for: green tea and brightly colored fruits and vegetables. The best being dark purples blueberries, blackberries, acai, cranberries, red cabbage and grapes. And dark greens and orange and reds, kale broccoli, apricots, cherries, mangoes, pineapples, peppers, red cabbage, apples and tomatoes.
Top foods to boost immunity and prevent infection
There are very few treatments, natural or otherwise, that can kill a virus outright. Usually a virus must run its course. However the list of antiviral foods and natural remedies can help boost immunity, reduce viruses and prevent further infection.
Water helps carry oxygen to your cells and is essential for healthy lungs. Flushing toxins out of vital organs and moisten tissues along the respiratory tract to reduce irritation. Drinking plenty of water (6-8 glasses a day!) helps the lungs and immune system filter and rid itself of foreign particles. Essential for keeping airways clean and clear of mucus and inflammation. Lungs are 80% water and even mild dehydration can impact lung function significantly.
Orange colored fruits and vegetables
Orange colored fruits and vegetables are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, and vitamins A and C. Try: sweet potatoes, winter squash, apricots
Chlorophyll, the component that gives leafy greens their green color, supports blood flow to the lungs. Anti-inflammatory leafy greens are loaded with antioxidant phytochemicals; and vitamins C, E, and A. Try: kale, spinach, swiss chard
Packed with vitamin C cruciferous vegetables boost immunity by switching on antioxidant genes in immune cells to combat free radicals and prevent sickness. Try: broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower
All teas are great for overall health. They contain antiviral properties and help reduce the replication of viruses therefore improve lung health. Green, black and white tea are are anti-inflammatory and loaded with potent antioxidants. Green teas are particularly rich in the antioxidant catechin, slowing down the release of histamines and reducing inflammation. Catechin even protects the lungs from irritation and can kill off viruses and bacteria.
Fatty fish are anti inflammatory, high in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D and Zinc. Fish is an essential part of a heart healthy, lung healthy diet. Try: wild salmon, tuna, herring, anchovies
High in vitamin D and selenium mushrooms are an essential part of a healthy diet. Mushrooms can absorb vitamin D from the sun and store it until eaten, so for a vitamin boost place ‘shrooms outside to sun for a bit before dinner.
Immune boosting, antioxidant rich and loaded with Vitamin C. Citrus fruits are also known to be great for lung health. Try: oranges, kiwi, lemons, limes, pineapple, strawberries
Blueberries are filled with antioxidant flavanoids, vitamins C and A. Eating blueberries reduces the likelihood of catching a cold (by up to 33%!), improves heart function and helps regulate the immune system.
Nuts and seeds
High in Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium nuts and seeds help reduce inflammation, ward off viral infections and boost the immune system. Try: pumpkin seeds (also high in zinc!), almonds, walnuts, cashews, pistachios, chia, flax, and hemp seeds
High in flavanoids and phytochemical antioxidants apples help boost immunity and reduce the risk of disease. The high level of antioxidant quercetin may even help protect lungs from smoke and other pollutants.
Garlic is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and antioxidant-rich. Especially effective if eaten raw it stimulates immune cells to safeguard against infections. And reducing the risk of lung cancer, especially in smokers. Try: homemade toum as an easy way to incorporate raw garlic into your diet.
Ginger is scientifically proven to inhibit viral replication and prevent viruses from entering host cells. And in addition to being a powerful antiviral ginger is highly anti-inflammatory.
Well known herbs like basil, sage, fennel, star anise, eucalyptus and oregano have powerful antiviral effects. But those that are most highly effective against the numerous viruses that cause infections in humans may are lesser-known herbs. Like echinacea, astragalus, hypericum, and sambucus among others.
- Echinacea or “bee balm” has immune boosting effects and is known to treat viral infections like herpes and influenza.
- Sambucus or Elderberry suppresses viral replication and stimulates immune system response binding to virus proteins to stop them from invading healthy cells. Elderberry also reduces upper respiratory symptoms caused by viral infections.
- Oregano oil has strong antiviral effects especially in respiratory infections.
- Hypericum or St John’s Wort has hypercin and pseudohypericin, potent antiviral chemicals, that imitate human cells to fight viruses.
What else can be done?
Antiviral foods are only one part of the puzzle. To be most effective antiviral foods must be eaten as a part of an overall healthy. Drink plenty of water and get a good amount of fresh air, sunshine and exercise from your outdoor adventures. Listen to your body and get plenty of restful sleep. But in addition there are other home remedies to boost your immune system for optimal respiratory health!
- Lung cleansing techniques like steam therapy or steam inhalation to open airways and help lungs drain mucus.
- Ozone therapy techniques supply oxygen to the muscles to improve circulation and remove excess carbon dioxide.
- Grounding and ‘earthing’, the practice of connecting the human body to the earth, has been demonstrated to have anti inflammatory effects in the human body and increase immune response.
- Health benefits of fruit and vegetables are from additive and synergistic combinations of phytochemicals. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12936943
- Anti-influenza virus effects of elderberry juice and its fractions https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22972323
- Black elderberry (Sambucus nigra) supplementation effectively treats upper respiratory symptoms https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30670267
- Potential of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Preventive Management of Novel H1N1 Flu (Swine Flu) Pandemic: Thwarting Potential Disasters in the Bud https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957173/
- MousaHA , Health impacts of alkaline diet and water, reduction of digestive-tract bacterial load, and earthing. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine.
- Consuming Green Tea at Least Twice Each Day Is Associated with Reduced Odds of Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/148/1/70/4774510
- Immunomodulation and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Garlic Compounds https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4417560/
- Raw Garlic Consumption and Lung Cancer in a Chinese Population https://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/25/4/624.long
- Prevention and treatment of viral infections by natural therapies infectioncontrol.imedpub.com/prevention-and-treatment-of-viral-infections-by-natural-therapies.php