These are strange, dark times we’re living in. Portlanders have been faced with a ferocious flu season and a nasty widespread throat virus, not to mention unexpected and dramatic political change. If the cold and the chaos of recent weeks have left you feeling under the weather, believe us: you’re not alone. Luckily, there are all sorts of relatively accessible and inexpensive foods that can help to keep your immune system fortified against whatever else 2016 throws at us. Here’s where to find five of our favorite food recommendations:
“Chicken soup for the soul” is more than just an old adage. When you’re sick, eating cooked poultry like chicken and turkey can boost your immune system and help it fight against infections like the flu. The reason? Poultry is rich in vitamin B-6, which is vital for the body’s production of red blood cells. If Grandma isn’t around to make you homemade chicken noodle soup, you can pick up a pint at places like SoupCycle or The Portland Soup Company.
This one is common knowledge, but it’s worth repeating: consuming common citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruits can quickly get you off the path of sickness and on the road to recovery. Citrus is almost pure vitamin C, which is believed to play a vital role in the production of white blood cells, which, in turn, are the body’s defenders against infection. Stop by a juice bar like Kure, Greenleaf, or Portland Juice Co to get your hands on a huge variety of juices and smoothies made with fresh citrus, or stock up on these mighty fruits wherever you buy groceries.
Drinking hot tea when you're sick is more than just a comfort for an irritated throat. Green and black teas are often rich in L-theanine, an amino acid responsible for boosting our immune systems. Luckily, there's an abundance of great places to start mainlining your nutrient-deprived system with tea. Some of our favorites include Tea Bar, Townshend’s, Smith Tea, and Tea Chai Te.
Our delicious, nutritious crustacean friends (creatures like oysters, lobsters, and crabs) are an excellent source of selenium, an antioxidant that plays a role in protecting your body from infection. Treat yourself to a shellfish dinner at Jake’s or the Woodsman Tavern, or stop by a local seafood market like the Portland Fish Market or Flying Fish to pick some up to prepare in the comfort of your own home.
Last—but certainly not least,—we recommend supplementing your diet with a hefty amount of garlic to kick the sick. This tiny, smelly onion is the only natural source of allicin, a mysterious and potent chemical that is responsible for a huge array of benefits within the body. Keep in mind that cooking kills allicin, so we recommend gritting your teeth and chewing on two to three raw cloves a day, as well as adding ground garlic to your meals. (If your friends and family love you, they’ll forgive your breath.) Pick up a few cloves at your favorite local market.