Champaign, Ill. (WCIA)
With back to school in full swing, it’s important to fuel your body to stay healthy and feed your immune system—it might pay off with fewer days of aches and pains. Studies show certain foods can actually help to boost our immunity and fight infection and certain foods can slow down the healing process too.
- Soup – a melting pot of health and healing
Reduces the inflammation that triggers symptoms and leads to more colds. It’s not clear which ingredient provides the most benefit, but researchers believe it’s the combination of all the healthy vegetables and other ingredients such as:
• Garlic, Onions, and Leeks – Combined, they contain dozens of broad-spectrum antiseptic and immunity-
• Mushrooms– they increase the production of cytokines, cells that help fight off infections. They also contain polysaccharides, another class of compounds that support your immune system.
• Black Pepper – ironically, the spice best known for making you sneeze can ward off the sniffles and can open up your nasal passages if you’re congested. Mix black pepper with ground ginger and vinegar, and the concoction can help increase the absorption of both herbal and over-the-counter medications.
- Citrus Fruits
Vitamin C, most commonly found in citrus fruits, is an antioxidant that can reduce cold symptoms. A review of 21 studies found that just 1-8 grams (1,000-8,000 milligrams) of the vitamin will do the trick, which you can get from supplements or from certain foods, such as, citrus fruits, red bell peppers, broccoli, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes.
Ginger contains chemicals called sesquiterpenes that specifically target rhinoviruses, the most common family of cold viruses, as well as substances that suppress coughing. It’s also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative, so it can help you rest when you’re sick. Adding a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea can do the trick, but you can also look for ginger chews or real ginger ale (most of the canned stuff has very little real ginger).
Because it coats your throat, it’s a great cold- and flu-friendly sore throat reliever, and its antioxidant and antimicrobial properties help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Buckwheat honey has the highest antioxidant levels; the clover honey that’s ubiquitous in supermarkets has the least. Warning: Don’t give honey to children under 1 year of age. Their immune systems aren’t developed enough to ward off infantile botulism, which is carried in honey spores.
Getting adequate selenium (oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams) increased immune cell production of proteins called cytokines a mineral that helps boost immunity. Research found that having enough selenium increases production of cytokines, which helps clear flu viruses out of the body. Brazil nuts are substitute if you don’t tolerate shellfish.
Orange Spinach salad with almonds – high in vitamin E and C, potassium and fiber
1 (10 oz) bag baby spinach
¼ small red onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 T. sliced almonds
1 orange, peeled and sectioned or one small can mandarin oranges, drained
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp salt
1-2 Tbsp honey
1-2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1-2 Tbsp olive oil
In a large salad bowl, toss spinach, onion and mushrooms. Mix last salt and pepper with last 3 ingredients and drizzle with dressing and mix salad ingredients lightly. Divide evenly among 4 salad plates; sprinkle with sliced almonds and orange pieces.
Sliced Right Nutrition Services is a comprehensive nutrition education service that provides nutrition counseling, healthy cooking demonstrations for groups and corporate wellness presentations. Registered dietitian and owner Kristina Adams Smith has over 20 years’ experience and specializes in educating clients how to make healthy eating affordable and easy.