Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. This article is for informational purposes only. The foods listed below are not cures or treatments for diseases.
For millennia, healers have used certain plant foods and herbs to combat and prevent viruses and bacterial infections.
These plants and herbs contain bioactive compounds that have antiviral and antibacterial properties. Some of them help your immune system stave off common viruses and reduce the symptoms.
Even Big Pharma studies these antiviral foods and herbs in search of cures for the world’s most troubling diseases.
Here are five foods that contain compounds that combat viruses and bacteria and can support immune health.
Raw garlic is one of the best antiviral foods in the world.
Studies show garlic is great for treating bacterial and viral infections — something healers have known since ancient times.
But to reap garlic’s health benefits, you have to eat it raw. When raw garlic is crushed or chopped, it releases a compound called allicin. When allicin is released, it turns into other compounds that have antiviral, antioxidant and antimicrobial properties.
One study found that aged garlic extract enhanced immune cell function1.
4. Oil of Oregano
You probably use oregano in your cooking all the time. But to reap the antiviral benefits of oregano, you have to consume oil derived from the Oregano plant.
Oregano oil, sold as an essential oil or capsule supplement, is packed with bioactive compounds that have antioxidant, antiviral and anti-bacterial compounds.
The main medicinal compound is carvacrol, which has strong antiviral benefits. Studies done in vitro show it can inhibit some human and animal viruses4.
This flavorful flowering plant has been used by healers across cultures for centuries.
Fresh ginger has medicinal compounds that are effective against bacterial and viral infections. The most beneficial of these compounds is Gingerol.
Fresh ginger is shown to have some effectiveness against RSV, a contagious virus that attacks the respiratory system5.
One study also showed ginger extract has an antiviral effect against avian flu6.
2. Shiitake Mushrooms
Delicious and medicinal, shiitake mushrooms may support the immune system’s virus defense.
Shiitake mushrooms contain polysaccharides that enhance immunity7.
One study found that people who consumed shiitake mushrooms daily had increased immunity and lower inflammation8.
Consuming these medicinal mushrooms may also help fight influenza. Research showed that the bioactive compounds in shiitake mushrooms prevented the spread of virus in mice9.
Both the fruit and stems of pineapples have one of nature’s greatest healing agents: bromelain.
This vital enzyme is a potent antioxidant with promising antiviral potential.
Research suggests that bromelain can dissolve the protective coating of certain viruses.
Studies showed that bromelain actually damaged the outer layer of HPV, HIV, and Hepatitis C viruses10 When the virus’s outer layer was damaged, it became ineffective or was destroyed altogether.
Bromelain’s health benefits don’t end there…
It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory that extinguishes joint pain and inflammation.
Now dive into these other great articles…
1. Food Science and Human Nutrition Department, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL. “Aged Garlic Extract Modifies Human Immunity”. J Nutr. 2016 Feb;146(2):433S-436S. doi: 10.3945/jn.115.210427. Epub 2016 Jan 13.
2. Nantz MP, et al. “Supplementation with aged garlic extract improves both NK and γδ-T cell function and reduces the severity of cold and flu symptoms: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled nutrition intervention.”Clin Nutr. 2012 Jun;31(3):337-44. doi: 10.1016/j.clnu.2011.11.019. Epub 2012 Jan 24.
4. Marciele Ribas Pilau, et al. “Antiviral activity of the Lippia graveolens (Mexican oregano) essential oil and its main compound carvacrol against human and animal viruses.” Braz J Microbiol. 2011 Oct-Dec; 42(4): 1616–1624.
5. Chang JS. “Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.” J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Jan 9;145(1):146-51. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2012.10.043. Epub 2012 Nov 1.
6. Rasool A, et al. “Anti-avian influenza virus H9N2 activity of aqueous extracts of Zingiber officinalis (Ginger) and Allium sativum (Garlic) in chick embryos.” Pak J Pharm Sci. 2017 Jul;30(4):1341-1344.
7. Xu X, et al. “Lentinula edodes-derived polysaccharide enhances systemic and mucosal immunity by spatial modulation of intestinal gene expression in mice.” Food Funct. 2015 Jun;6(6):2068-80. doi: 10.1039/c4fo01192a.[“>PubMed]
8. Dai X, et al. “Consuming Lentinula edodes (Shiitake) Mushrooms Daily Improves Human Immunity: A Randomized Dietary Intervention in Healthy Young Adults.” J Am Coll Nutr. 2015;34(6):478-87. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2014.950391. Epub 2015 Apr 11.