Fall weather is upon us and there’s no better way to improve your immunity, than with a bowl of hot soup. It’s well known that chicken soup can boost immunity and shorten the common cold. However, there are many other soup ingredients you can add to your fall and winter soups that can lead to increased immunity as well.
Chicken soup contains vitamins A and C, magnesium, phosphorus, gelatin and antioxidants, which are known to strengthen the immune system and help ward off viruses. The protein from chicken provides amino acids that are used to build antibodies to fight infection. And, the carbohydrates in noodles or rice provide easy-to-digest energy that keeps you feeling satisfied so you can get better more quickly. If you’re looking for more options to improve your immunity, try these soup ingredients:
- Cabbage – This crunchy vegetable is valued in China, and actually stored for the winter by many Chinese, particularly for its glutamine (an antioxidant). It goes well with green beans, carrots, and green bell peppers–all high in vitamins C and A.
- Barley – Barley is loaded with beta-glucan, a special fiber that can give your immune system an extra boost. Nearly every immune cell in your body has special receptors designed to grab onto beta-glucan, kicking up the activity of white blood cells that battle bacteria and viruses.
- Spinach – Spinach is packed with antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid. You can toss a handful of spinach in just about any soup to get the added benefits of these greens.
- Garlic – The ancient Greeks and Romans used garlic for its health benefits. As early as the 1800s, there was scientific evidence that bacteria did not survive when encountering garlic. Recent research confirms that garlic can strengthen the immune system and kill some illness-causing viruses and bacteria.
- Turmeric – Turmeric has one of the highest antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is anti-viral and anti-fungal. Inflammation is the cause of many chronic diseases that lead to illness, so turmeric is an anti-inflammatory must. Mixing turmeric with black pepper increases your body’s absorption significantly.
- Fermented Foods – If you want to significantly boost your immune system, adding fermented soup ingredients like sauerkraut and kimchi is important. Fermented foods contain healthy, friendly bacteria (probiotics) that help to balance your gut flora — this is where 70% of your immune system lives. Keeping your gut in working order is essential to good health, and fermented foods are powerful.