According to the Center for Disease Controls (CDC), the peak season for contracting the flu virus occurs between November through February. During this time, the CDC also reports that each year, thousands are hospitalized and there is an increased number of influenza-related fatalities. I know it sounds bleak. But what if I told you that the foods you eat could protect you from infection all together?

Let’s first discuss how a virus infects your body. Viruses are prevalent in our environment and can enter your system through your mouth, nose, breaks in your skin, or blood-sourced insects. Once inside, the particle attaches to a healthy host cell, releases genetic instructions within the cell and recruits its enzymes, which the virus uses as material to make new virus particles that then break free from the host cell. In other words your healthy cells provide an incubator-like environment for a virus. According to One Green Planet publication,  “The only goal of a virus is to create more viruses…once the infected cell dies, it releases all of the newly created viruses that go on to infect more cells, and so on and so forth.”

Antibiotics are useless against viruses and its one of the reasons why antiviral medications and vaccines are prominent. Antiviral medications work by inhibiting the virus’s ability to reproduce.

Vaccines work because they cause the production of antibodies to occur in the body approximately two weeks after the vaccination. This allows protection against the viruses specific to that vaccine.

But in order to be protected, the virus that infects you must be included in your vaccine. However, according to Dr. Josh Axe, “An annual influenza vaccination, or flu shot…is only 80 percent effective because of the mutating strains of the influenza virus; plus, these vaccines educate the immune system in an improper and unnatural manner, and often contain dangerous chemicals and preservatives.”

Fortunately for us, there are a number of foods and herbs that help to boost the immune system, fight infections and reduce inflammation. According to Dr. Axe, antiviral herbs inhibit the development of viruses and aids the body in its attack of pathogens. In addition, herbs can be used to treat infections without caution because they’re harmless and typically cause no or few side effects. Some sources assert that antiviral herbs are the most potent plant forms of preventative medicine, however, there are whole foods with antiviral properties as well.

Now that you understand how antiviral foods and herbs work, here a few of note for you to consider incorporating into your diets:

 

  • Elderberry – This herb has a well-earned reputation of fighting infections including influenza, herpes, viral and bacterial infections. Also, in a study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, it was deduced that elderberry could be used as a safe treatment for influenza A and B.
  • Shiitake Mushrooms – This food source is full of antiviral compounds that inhibit viral replication. Studies have also shown that these mushrooms boost immunity while reducing inflammation. According to betternutrion.com, it protected consumers against 85 percent of yeasts, molds and other organisms they tested.
  • Yogurt – Contains probiotics that fights viral infections and, also according to betternutrition.com, nearly 30 trials consistently showed that yogurt’s natural probiotics protected against respiratory tract infections. Other studies have found they could enhance speed recovery, and lessen the severity of respiratory infections caused by the influenza virus.
  • Black Tea – This herb has pathogen-fighting compounds that protect against a variety of viral infections. In fact, according to betternutriton.com, research shows they can almost completely inhibit the influenza virus.
  • Ginger – This herb has been used to treat colds and flus dating back to ancient times. Also, betternutriton.com indicates that a study on fresh ginger protected against HRSV (human respiratory syncytial virus, a major cause of lower respiratory tract infections), by blocking the virus’ ability to attach to host cells.
  • Garlic – This herb is cited for being effective in eliminating countless microorganisms in most common infections including pneumonia, herpes and tuberculosis. Also, according to Dr. Axe, it can be used to treat eye infections and well as a natural ear infection remedy.
  • Oregano – Oregano has been called by many—the natural antibiotic. In fact, Dr. Axe claims it “…to be superior to some antibiotics, without the harmful side effects.” In part, its because of two powerful compounds—carvacrol and thymol, that have powerful antibacterial and antifungal properties. Carvacrol reverses viral infections, as well as allergies, tumors, parasites and disease-causing inflammation.

 

As mentioned, there are also other foods with antiviral properties that would be beneficial to add to meals including kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage and spinach to name a few. The super power of these antiviral food medicines is that they help eradicate viruses while also providing immunity and additional internal support with little to no side-effects. Protect your body against viruses this Flu season—one bite at a time.

Interested to learn about my personal go-to for protecting my immunity? Check out the herbal activators that I use and have helped me preserve my immunity and be victorious in my fight against Lyme Disease.