The ABC’s of Staying Healthy During the Cold/Flu Season
We always know it’s coming. That dreaded time somewhere between summer’s end and the holidays where cooties have their way with us. Kid’s are back in school and sharing everything from high fives to water fountains. Climate changes cause temperature fluxes in homes and workplaces. Basically people just get sick! So other than sequestering yourself in a room until after the cold and flu season ends, how can you give those pesky germs a run for their money? Well, how about letting your diet help?
Vitamin and herbal supplements have become the quick and dirty way to feed your body necessary nutrients. Sure it’s better than nothing at all and can be a great addition to a healthy diet, but getting the goods straight from the source is always best. For a body to maintain a healthy immune system, there are six nutrient powerhouses that should be included in a daily diet: Vitamin A, B, C, D, E, and Zinc. Several foods contain minimal or substantial amounts of each of these but there are certain staple (and yummy) natural foods that are a great source of each of these nutrients.
- Vitamin A helps regulate and support the healthy development of immune cells. Papaya, sweet potatoes, and carrots are a few sources of this vitamin.
- B Vitamins are essential for energy production and stress tolerance and resilience which are vital to a healthy immune system. The B’s can be found in several foods such as squash, bell peppers, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, tuna, garlic, turkey and salmon.
- Vitamin C effects various immune functions because it enhances white blood cell function and activity which increases interferon levels, antibody responses, antibody levels and secretion of thymic hormones. Key sources of C include papaya, kiwi, citrus fruits, cantaloupe, mango, pineapple, berries, watermelon red and green bell peppers, spinach and brussels sprouts.
- Vitamin D binds to cell receptors all over the body which causes changes in cellular function. These receptors can regulate genes that influence many physiological functions. In addition to a healthy and monitored dose of sunshine from which the body produces D, salmon, tuna and egg yolks are great ways to get more.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant which can prevent or slow cell damage. Studies show that E can be especially useful when the immune system is under attack. E can be can be found in raw nuts and seeds and the oils that they produce. Almonds and Brazil nuts are especially beneficial.
- Zinc is a mineral which the immune system requires to function properly. Oysters are an excellent source of zinc as is poultry, red meat, beans, whole grains and nuts.
In addition to the ABC’s, there are a number of other power foods that help boost T-cells (which fight viruses in our bloodstream). Garlic, Shiitake Mushrooms, some shell fish, lamb, and brown rice are a few.
During the cold and flu season, being proactive with your health is easy. Just add some or all of these delicious power foods to your diet. Chances are, they’re already a part of your routine. Just remember to prepare them with a conscience so you don’t over cook or saturate the good stuff out. Be well, be fit, be happy and Bon Apétit!!!