You can catch a cold and flu anytime. But the winter is the flu season since this illness is more prevalent in this time of year. Though cold and flu cause minor discomforts, it’s still best not to catch any of these health problems as you celebrate the holidays.
You can dodge these bugs by strengthening your immune system and ensure your body is in its best shape. Taking these steps doesn’t only mean increasing your dosage of vitamins and supplements, but it also means taking extra steps to become extra fit and healthy. You can start by eating the right foods, which have a good reputation for fighting against cold and flu. And, of course, don’t forget to exercise to further strengthen your body’s natural defenses.
In the meantime, let’s take a look at the foods that should be on your diet this flu season.
You can get your dose of vitamin C from supplements. But this isn’t enough, especially when you’re an endurance athlete or live in an extremely cold environment. These super stressors can reduce your body’s ability to defend itself from colds and flu.
Other than vitamin C supplements, eating foods rich in vitamins and nutrients can boost your immune system. Health experts say foods work better than supplements at preventing colds due to their overall nutritional value.
When you take supplements, specifically vitamin C, that’s the only nutrient your body gets. But if you consume an orange, you get high doses of vitamin C as well as other nutrients like magnesium, folate, potassium, vitamin B6 and flavonoids. The antioxidants you get from oranges and other citrus fruits can boost your overall health.
Other than citrus fruits, tomatoes are also rich in vitamin C, containing about 16 milligrams of this cold-fighting vitamin. Numerous studies show that vitamin C is a vital component of phagocytes and T-cells, the body’s natural killers of antigen. A sufficient dose of vitamin C means a strong immune system while a deficiency of it can make the body susceptible to illnesses, specifically cold and flu.
Ginger is a superfood, making it one of the favorite herbs of Ayurveda therapy. In a study published in the International Journal of Preventive Medicine, scientists reported that ginger has a strong anti-inflammatory property necessary to fight against cold and flu. Inflammation is the immune system’s natural response to injuries and foreign bodies, which can be good. But chronic inflammation can be harmful to the body.
Hence, drinking ginger tea helps your body reduce inflammation while strengthening your immune system. Also, ginger has antibacterial properties that support immunity as well.
Oats and barley
Grains contain water soluble fibers that make you feel full. It’s also gut-friendly food. But aside from these health reasons, scientists reveal that there’s more to what grains can offer. Whole grains like oats and barley are rich in the substance called benzoxazinoids or BX, which helps boost the immune system and suppresses the levels of pathogenic bacteria.
Mushrooms are nutrient dense foods that are great at boosting your immune system and keeping you healthy in general. These superfoods contain beta-glucan, which is responsible for anti-inflammatory activities and protect the body against illnesses.
Researchers also shared that mushroom varieties such as shiitake, maitake, and reishi help increase white cell production, which is necessary for fighting off infections.
Sweet potatoes are well known for their carotenoids content, which boost immunity when converted into vitamin A. These purple, orange, yellow and white superfoods are rich in vitamins and minerals namely, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins B6 and C, manganese, potassium, copper, and niacin, which all keep the body healthy and boost immunity.
Blueberries are rich in flavonoids, which are antioxidants that help fight off coughs, colds, and flu. Research found that people who consume flavonoids have reduced chances of catching a common cold compared to people who didn’t consume flavonoids rich foods.
While salmon is popular for its omega 3s, this fish also boasts of its zinc content, which has been found to reduce common cold symptoms. Researchers show that zinc can significantly reduce the severity and duration of symptoms when taken as soon as the cold symptoms start. A regular daily intake of zinc has also been proven to prevent catching a cold during flu season.
Broccoli should always be on your plate this flu season. According to research, broccoli and other cruciferous vegetables help boost immunity due to sulforaphane, a chemical in the vegetable that triggers the antioxidant genes and enzymes of the immune cells to fight against free radicals.
Spinach is rich in vitamin C, which helps support a strong immune system. This leafy veggie is also rich in antioxidants that shield the body from harmful free radical damage and white blood cells that fight against bacteria.
If you hate garlic for its strong smell, you have to love it for its ability to protect you against cold and flu. Garlic contains flavonoids, allicin, and selenium that help increase the production of T-cells, which increase the body’s capability to fight against diseases. These substances also aid in combating stress and fatigue, both of which lower the body’s immunity. Research also showed that garlic consumers reported fewer cases of the common cold compared to the controlled group.
If the above foods don’t support your sweet tooth, this one does. Dark chocolates are great at fighting against cold and flu because of its rich antioxidant contents, specifically theobromine, which has been found to alleviate coughing and suppress symptoms
As you can see, protecting your health this flu season isn’t as complicated as it seems. All it takes is a little tweak in your diet. However, if you feel you need to have a flu shot to ensure total protection, then go on, especially when you’re elderly or are having respiratory conditions.
Diet is only one way of ensuring your body’s health. You also need to keep yourself active by having regular exercise and giving your body enough rest and sleep. All these things are crucial for a superb immune system. Lastly, always wash your hands this flu season to get rid of the germs your hands come into contact with.