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Staying Healthy this Season

With the arrival of November we get elections, Thanksgiving, and the advent of cold and flu season.  Not to worry.  Take preventative action and keep a positive attitude. 

According to Karen Ansel, RD, with the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, you can increase your body’s defense against infection from colds and flu by making healthy immune boosting choices for your meals from each food group.  Here are a few of her cold and flu fighting food tips:

FISH
Oily fish that is, like salmon, tuna, Arctic char, sardines and mackerel, which are all high in omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega 3’s are the ones that reduce inflammation and have been shown to reduce symptoms of anxiety. Chronic inflammation and chronic anxiety can prevent your immune system from doing it’s job well.

GARLIC
Garlic is more than a flavor factor, it can produce potent antioxidants, especially when eaten raw.  Garlic supplements are also available and seem to reduce the number and length of cold symptoms.

CITRUS FRUITS and BELL PEPPERS
Include plenty of oranges, limes, grapefruit, and bell peppers in your meals and recipes this time of year.  Current research is now suggesting that vitamin C is not as beneficial for preventing colds as it is in reducing the duration of colds and effecting milder symptoms.  Vitamin C is crucial for immune function.  Believe it or not, bell peppers are higher in vitamin C than citrus fruits.

YOGURT and KEFIR
Dairy products aren’t always the food of choice when suffering cold and flu symptoms, but eating probiotic foods help to replenish beneficial strains of bacteria in your gut.  A 2011 review of research found that consuming probiotics lowers the risk of upper respiratory infections better than a placebo.

TEA
What’s better than a hot cup of tea, honey and lemon when suffering cold and flu symptoms?  It turns out that black, green and white teas are chocked full of antioxidants called “catechins” that may contain flu fighting powers.  They have also shown to boost overall immunity, up your metabolism, and protect against heart disease and cancer.  Wow!

DARK CHOCOLATE
Fun, right?!  Pure cocoa contains a higher amount of antioxidants known as polyphenols than most berries, AND it’s loaded with zinc.  To make the most of the immune-boosting benefits without the sugar and fat, eat only  a bite-size portion of dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 70% or higher.  Dark chocolate dipped strawberries, anyone?

CARROTS and SWEET POTATOES
Hello Thanksgiving meal!  Orange fruits and vegetables are rich in beta-carotene.  This compound converts into vitamin A, needed for maintaining a strong immune system.  It keeps the mucous membranes lining our nose and throat healthy and functioning at a high level.

Just a small line up of healthy food choices to employ all year, but especially during this notorious cold and flu season. 

Eat well for your health, but don’t forget to wash your hands, add a bowl of chicken soup and get plenty of sleep too!