It’s that time of year, and it is not being kind to people in my neck of the woods. We had our first flu diagnosis at school around the second week of October which is really early for the South.
There is a lot of confusing and conflicting information out there regarding the common cold and Influenza. “There is no cure for the common cold” but there are some well-known home remedies and newer research to help make the duration of the illness shorter and less symptomatic. Keep in mind, that for every research study suggesting a positive correlation between a treatment/drug/supplement, there are 10 more studies to dispute it. But what about good old fashioned FOOD? Here are some ideas for eating for your health while down with colds or flu.
Superfood Flu Fighters
1. Raw Kale (and other Vitamin C boosters)
Why raw? For that matter, why Kale??? Kale is ridiculously high in Vitamin C. One cup of raw kale has 240 mg of Vitamin C. The recommended daily allowance for women is 75 mg. But why should it be raw? Vitamin C is very sensitive to heat. It breaks down and loses well over half of it’s immune-boosting nutrition. That is also why eating a raw orange is much better than drinking OJ which has been heat pasteurized. Sure, it may be 100% juice, but it’s no longer as effective as the raw orange.
How to get in raw kale? Smoothies. I promise, if you put in a banana or other fruit, the kale green taste is absorbed and you’re left with a fruity green drink. Be a big girl and drink your greens 😉
Another way to get in raw kale is to find a good recipe for “massaged kale”. It’s basically kale that has been worked with the hands using oils, vinegars, and spices. Leave it in the fridge for a couple of hours and you’ve got a fantastic savory dish that is loaded with immune-boosting nutrition.
Salmon acts as a natural flu-fighter because it has large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids, which boost immune system function. Salmon also is one of the highest natural sources of vitamin D, which helps to regulate calcium in the body. Some studies suggest we need a lot more Vitamin D than we are currently getting from diets and limited sun exposure. Omega-3s are proven to boost immunity. Eat your fats!
Low-fat yogurt has many uses for colds and flu. Fermented dairy products contain “probiotics,” bacteria that help the body fight off infections, including cold and flu. If you have a bacterial respiratory infection such as sinus infections, you will more than likely be given an anti-biotic. Yogurt is crucial is helping keep the digestive tract happy by adding back in the “good” bacteria. Those drugs do not discriminate. They wipe out whatever is in the path. Yogurt is also very effective in preventing infections of the reproductive system that result from using anti-biotics.
4. Sweet potatoes
Sweet potatoes, sweet beta carotene. Why is Vitamin A (beta-carotene) important for colds and flu? We know it might have a role in preventing heart disease, but what about colds? Beta-carotene may encourage the production of lymphocytes, which are white blood cells that identify and attack virus cells. Think about that the next time you load up on sweet potatoes and other orange boosters like squash, pumpkin, and carrots. It should also be noted that beta carotene in high doses can lead to toxicity. For that reason, it is recommended that we eat our Vitamin A, and not depend on supplementation. We would have to eat a LOT of sweet potatoes to reach 8,000 mcg.
5. Chicken soup
Seriously? Isn’t that an old wives’ tale?
Not at all. Chicken soup might help relieve cold and flu symptoms in two ways. First, it acts as an anti-inflammatory by inhibiting the movement of neutrophils — immune system cells that participate in the body’s inflammatory response. Second, it temporarily speeds up the movement of mucus, possibly helping relieve congestion and limiting the amount of time viruses are in contact with the nose lining. (source). There are also studies suggesting that bone broths have an excellent anti-inflammatory property.
6. Hot tea
Specifically, green tea!
According to Dr. Oz, It is known to have many properties that can help prevent the colds and viruses from bringing your immune system down. Studies are still inconclusive on how many cups is optimal, but 2-3 per day are often recommended. If you do come down with cold or flu symptoms (or feel them coming on), consider 3-4 cups of green tea per day to speed up virus destruction and give your body’s defenses an extra boost! Also, hot soup and hot tea use steam to open up the nasal passages and help relive the sinus pressure. Hot foods just seem to make you feel better!
Now that I have some ideas for feeding this flu and secondary bronchitis, I need to get busy in the kitchen! Stay healthy and eat your vitamins 😉