It is that time of year again (groan!). Welcome to the cold and flu season. Your first inclination may be to head to the closest drugstore and stock up on tissues and cold medication. If you dread the thought of a runny or stuffed up nose, sneezing, sinus congestion, a headache, the chills and a dry scratchy throat, be proactive.
How can you accomplish that? Get regular physical activity (even walks will fit the fitness bill in the fall and winter months) and improve the work of your overworked immune system by paying attention to your nutrition.
One – Think healthy protein:
One of the many tasks of protein is to improve the body’s ability to produce antibodies that fight diseases and infections. Choose high-protein foods that are also are made up of healthy fats. Examples of these include ground turkey breast, white-meat chicken, beans, fish, nuts, tofu and non-fat dairy. Stay away from fatty red meats and dairy foods that are high in their fat content. These foods promote inflammation around the heart and should be avoided.
Two – Enjoy a cup of black tea:
To improve your body’s ability to fight viruses, drink more black tea. Those who consume five cups (approximately three mugs) of black tea on a daily basis, produce 10 times more “virus-fighting interferon” than those individuals who drink coffee.
Three – Add some color to your diet:
Fruits and vegetables come in every color of the rainbow- well practically! Load up on as many colors as you can. Bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi fruit, oranges, strawberries and tomatoes are all excellent sources of vitamin C and flavonoids. These essential substances support the body in sending out protective immune cells. You need these foods so eat up as often as possible!
Four – Choose cereals that are 100 percent whole-grain:
Oatmeal and shredded wheat are two whole-grain cereals that are rich in the nutrients beta glucan, selenium and zinc. These three nutrients are particularly beneficial in the winter months because they enhance the work of the immune system.
Five – Fight illness with spiced up chicken soup:
Even with the best efforts, it is still possible to catch something during the cold and flu season. If you do come down with something, turn to the old standby, chicken soup. Chicken soup has the potential to shorten the duration of your illness by as much as 50 percent.
There have been many theories proposed as to why this may be the case. One of the theories has to do with an amino acid called cysteine. When chicken is cooked, it releases this amino acid, which is chemically similar to a drug for bronchitis called acetylcysteine.
To enhance chicken soup’s power to fight the flu and a cold, add some garlic and hot red pepper to your soup. Garlic is excellent at fighting viruses while hot red pepper contains capsaicin, which is a very strong decongestant. Chicken soup with a little dill weed added to it can also do your infection a world of good.