We are all looking for one right now, aren’t we? Many of you have asked about what foods or vitamins you should be taking this winter to help your immune system stay healthy and avoid those crazy flu viruses going around.
I truly believe that preventing sickness with nutrition works. Viruses love bodies that are out of balance, and things that disrupt this balance include too much caffeine, alcohol, artificial sugars or processed foods; continuous stress; lack of sleep; dehydration; and other harmful things we do to ourselves. Of course no one can have a perfect diet and lifestyle, but if we focus on some of the foods I list below, we can greatly reduce our susceptibility to the winter bugs.
High in beta-carotene, sweet potatoes are a great source of Vitamin A. The lining of our lungs and digestive systems depend on this antioxidant for proper function, and these are the front lines for protection against the flu and other viruses. Try this sweet potato recipe on my Facebook page to get your Vitamin A!
Kiwis are packed with Vitamin C. And we all know that Vitamin C helps keep our immune system tough and fighting. The biggest mistake people make with Vitamin C is they wait until they feel cold or flu symptoms before taking it. They'll start to get achy and sick and suddenly they are drinking 5 Emergen-C packs per day and taking Vitamin C supplements. Studies have actually shown that waiting to take Vitamin C until you have already caught a bug does not decrease the days you are sick at all. So focus on kiwis this season, along with other sources of Vitamin C like peppers, broccoli, orange juice, strawberries and leafy greens.
Onions & Garlic
Onions and garlic are actually considered some of the strongest cold and flu fighters. They are both antimicrobials and contain sulfur compounds that combat bacteria, fungi, parasites and viruses. Garlic and onions also contain allicin, a compound that blocks the enzymes that help viruses spread.
Echinacea is an herb whose roots, leaves and flowers are all medicinal. You can find it in an herbal extract form or drink it as a tea. It is an immunity boost when taken regularly. If you drink the tea, adding honey will help enhance the benefits.
If you do happen to catch a cold or the flu this year, continue to focus on a healthy diet. Drinking Echinacea or ginger tea each day (if you can, drink 5 or more cups per day) will help your body fight off an infection. Ginger is anti-inflammatory which can ease throat pain. In addition, it helps warm the body, which is needed to fight infection.
Eucalyptus, sage and thyme are also all good herbs to try when you are not feeling 100%. Eucalyptus and thyme are both full of antibacterial compounds. They relieve congestion nicely. Sage can be made into a tea to help clear sinuses.
Of course washing your hands and drinking TONS of water are both of the utmost importance. I will talk more about water this week, but it is vital for overall health. I realize that sometimes you are desperate and need to take whatever medication you can get your hands on to feel better and function for the day. However, try some of these things and you may be surprised at how effective they are. And not only that, but they are all completely natural and supportive of a body in balance, so they will not contribute to any further health problems you may have.