Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Health
A healthy diet can help fight winter sniffles
People try many different methods to avoid catching a cold or flu during the winter months. One thing to remember is that simple diet choices can boost our immune system, said Susan Mills-Gray, Nutrition and Health Education specialist with University of Missouri Extension. The following list includes simple things that can boost the immune system to work at peak performance.
- Get plenty of liquids to help prevent viruses and bacteria from taking up residence in your body. According to Dr. Riva Rahl of the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, “the mucus in your nose is actually one of the key physical barriers that keep germs out of your body. When you’re not well hydrated, it dries up and doesn’t provide that barrier.”
- Protein is a building block for a healthy immune system. Choose lean red meats, poultry and fish, dried beans and soy. You can also choose protein-rich plant sources with heart-healthy fat, like peanut butter and nuts.
- Choose foods rich in vitamins C and E. These two antioxidant-rich vitamins protect cells — including those of your immune system — from damage by toxins in the environment. Choose citrus fruits/juices, melons, mangoes, kiwi, peppers, tomatoes, berries, broccoli, cabbage, sweet/white potatoes, winter squash, leafy greens, almonds, hazelnuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, safflower oil, whole grains and fortified cereals several times a day.
- Eat probiotic foods to help build up the good bacteria in the intestines. These bacteria play a role in helping fend off illnesses. Any fermented food is rich in this type of good bacteria, so choose yogurt, sauerkraut, tofu, brine-treated pickles and aged cheese at least daily.
- Add a zinc-rich food to your daily diet to increase the production of white blood cells in your body. Research shows that this effect can reduce the number of days you’ll suffer from a cold. Some foods rich in zinc are yogurt, lean red meat, poultry and fish, almonds, pumpkin seeds and fortified cereals.
Sources: WebMD and Harvard Medical School.
Last update: Monday, December 27, 2010