9 Best Immune-Boosting Foods to Eat During Recovery

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By Written by Karmen. Reviewed by Sasha de Beausset, M.Sc. Food and Nutrition
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Fight off viruses and boost your recovery with these 9 best immune-boosting foods. Learn how to keep your health in check and become stronger with the right nutrition!

Best-Immune-Boosting-Foods to eat during recovery

The human body is nature’s masterpiece of perfect balance. Our organs work together in harmony to achieve optimal functioning. Unfortunately, that balance is fairly easy to disrupt, causing a whole system to succumb to an outside threat such as a virus or bacteria.

Luckily, there’s an immune response our body automatically activates to deal with these issues. Once the fighting against the enemy is over, our immune system is shaken and needs to be rebuilt.

Food plays a crucial part in that recovery, and here are some facts you need to know about immune-boosting foods that can help you recover faster.

Rebuilding your immune system after chemo

Chemotherapy remains an unavoidable treatment for eradicating cancer. As we all know, the side effects of chemo are quite serious, making it fairly difficult to go through. In essence, chemo comes down to administering chemicals to a patient to kill fast-growing cells. Unfortunately, some of the healthy tissues take a beating, too. As the body weakens due to this treatment, outside threats, such as infections, become even more dangerous.

To boost your immune system after chemo, you should turn to healthy food before you start feeling the effects of the treatment. Chemotherapy may induce nausea, loss of appetite, and changes in how you perceive the taste of foods. It will be easier to switch to a healthier diet before all that happens than to adjust to it when you are already going through hardships. Your diet should be well-balanced with lots of vegetables, fruit, and lean proteins such as various types of meat. But you should pay special attention to avoiding unhealthy methods for preparing food, such as frying it in oils. Sugar should be avoided at all costs as it promotes cancerous cells’ growth. But, most importantly, focus on regaining your appetite.

Best immune-boosting foods to eat during addiction recovery

Fighting addictions is extremely difficult, both emotionally and physically. The addictive substances one has let wreak havoc around their body leave behind a broken immune system and many organs in ruins. Once you have won the war against a monster such as addiction, it is time to rebuild the body and make it capable of fighting again when the time comes. To do that, you’ll need to use nutrition to your benefit. During addiction recovery, you should focus on removing toxins from your bloodstream and organs. Here are some foods that can help you detox faster:

  • Lemon. No story about detox could ever go without mentioning lemon as an important ingredient. This member of the superfood family contains a significant amount of vitamin C, which the body uses to fight free radicals. Its alkaline effects help restore the pH balance, which benefits the immune system as well. You can start your day with a bit of lemon mixed with lukewarm water. It does wonders on many levels.
  • Cabbage. This veggie contains the least sugar in any form, so it is a top choice for people who want to lose weight. What makes it excellent for detoxifying are two chemicals: sulforaphane and glutathione. They clean the body of toxins, with the latter being especially good for liver recovery.
  • Brown rice. Speaking of cleansing, this ingredient is a good choice for it. It contains B vitamins, phosphorous, manganese, and magnesium, which are all detoxifying nutrients. It is also rich in selenium which will help an addiction patient’s liver get back on its feet faster.
A jug of water with lemons in it
Lemon is one of the immune-boosting foods to eat during recovery

Getting stronger after the flu

Even though it is nowhere near as serious as the abovementioned issues one can be struggling with, the flu can drain the immune system and make you feel exhausted in general. To boost it back up, here are a few nutrients you must include in your diet:

  • Probiotics. Taking antibiotics kills off both good and bad bacteria. Your gut needs good bacteria to function properly, which probiotics can help you restore. When recovering after the flu, make sure you take probiotic-rich foods such as miso, tempeh, kombucha, and yogurt.
  • Lean protein. During the flu, you probably ate less than you should have, and now it’s time to regain strength. There’s nothing better for building strength than lean proteins, so stock up on poultry white meat, lean beef, egg whites, white-fleshed fish, and low-fat cottage cheese, just to name a few.
  • Fluids. They are not technically food but are inseparable from it, especially when we are talking about health and nutrition. For one thing, flu dehydrates the body. Also, you want to flush your system and get all the drugs and toxins out as soon as possible. For all that, fluids are the key. Just make sure you take the healthy ones, such as plain water, tea, and freshly squeezed juices.
A jar full of yogurt which is one of the immune-boosting foods to eat during recovery
Yogurt contains probiotics that are great for restoring gut health.

What children should eat during recovery

Kids are specific when it comes to recovery because they are emotionally immature and need a bit more convincing to eat what is good for them. Although there are ways to make healthy food tasty as well, here’s a suggestion of what to offer your child that already tastes delicious and is extremely beneficial for recovery.

  • Oranges. This orange fruit has that rare combination of being sweet and very healthy at the same time. It is full of vitamin C, water, and energy-boosting ingredients. One orange will hydrate a child and refuel them in terms of energy. No wonder it’s the favorite soccer half-time snack!
  • Bananas. Like oranges, bananas are sweet yet healthy, and it takes almost nothing to convince a kid to eat them. They are rich in potassium and magnesium, both of which are important for overall body strength.
  • Chicken soup. This recovery veteran has been used to help people restore their electrolyte levels for centuries. Kids love it as much as adults. Today, there are fun variants of it with a letter or animal-shaped pasta in it.
A bowl of chicken soup with large noodles in it
Children like eating chicken soup which is fortunate since this food item is good for recovery after illness

Final thoughts

Immune-boosting foods one should eat during recovery come down to a well-balanced diet that contains ingredients that primarily remove toxins from the body and restore its ability to fight disease. With a bit of attention and some getting used to, you can go through challenging times of recovery very successfully and get back on your feet much faster.

Written by Karmen. Reviewed by Sasha de Beausset, M.Sc. Food and Nutrition

Sasha is a Nutritional Anthropologist with an M.Sc. in Food and Nutrition. She has been a food, nutrition, and health researcher and writer for six years and also works as an international development consultant. She is passionate about empowering people to make the best nutrition and health choices in a way that makes cultural and logical sense for each individual and community.

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