Avoiding the Cold & Flu: Part II

19 Dec

Avoiding the Cold & Flu: Part II

by Tim Skwiat, MEd, CSCS, Pn1

This is the second part of a two-part short article series on how your diet can expose you—or protect you—from the cold and flu this holiday season. In part one, we discussed how certain foods can wreak havoc on your immune system and make you more susceptible to these debilitating infections. In this article, we’ll discuss what you need to do to fortify your immune system to help fight off these nasty bugs.

We already know that certain foods—and lifestyle factors—can weaken our immune system. But, there must be a way to enhance and optimize our immune systems in order to fight off those pesky cold and flu viruses.

Whether you’re trying to fend off the cold or flu, or you’re already experiencing the symptoms, the key is to ramp up the immune system and strengthen your immune response.

80% of your immune system resides in your gut. Yep, it’s far more than a digestion center. Your immune system depends on an optimal ratio of “good” to “bad” bacteria. You already know that sugar is a haven for the bad bacteria in your gut—weakening your immune system—but how can you increase the “good” bacteria to enhance your immune response?

Fermented foods (i.e., yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, and kimchi) are high in probiotic bacteria that can optimize your immune system. The good ol’ green pickle is also a source of good bacteria, as is the fermented tea komboucha. As briefly mentioned in Part I, Pro-X10™ is a breakthrough probiotic supplement from BioTrust Nutrition. It is unparalleled in its ability to deliver a variety of high-quality “good” bacteria to your gut.

You can boost your immunity and your ability to fight infection by increasing the amount of antioxidants you consume. The top antioxidants are vitamin C and E, beta-carotene, zinc. Include plenty of brightly colored, organic vegetables and fruits like:

  • Berries
  • Bell peppers (multiple colors)
  • Broccoli
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Kale
  • Pumpkin
  • Squash
  • Spinach
  • Nuts and Seeds

I’ve been known to be a “myth buster” of wives tales, but one that is tried and true is good ol’ chicken noodle soup. Interestingly, chicken contains a specific amino acid (cysteine) that thins and loosens the mucus in your lungs so you can get rid of that bad bacteria more easily.

The following herbs and spices have been shown to exert potent anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-viral properties:

  • Basil
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Cumin
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme

Water is a nutrient critical for the optimal functioning of every system in your body. Make sure you stay hydrated—drink at least 9 – 12 cups (i.e., 8 ounces per cup) per day. Green tea has recently been shown to be associated with a lower rate of infection with the influenza virus. It is recommended to drink 1 – 5 cups per day to enjoy these flu-fighting benefits.

Zinc is a super-important mineral when it comes to fighting off the cold. Research shows that, when taken within one day of the onset of symptoms, zinc can reduce the time you battle the cold by about 24 hours. Studies show that 50 to 65mg are enough to reap these benefits. While calf’s liver is the richest source of zinc, more palatable foods like mushrooms and spinach are very good sources of this cold-fighting mineral.

Other vitamins and minerals may play a role in boosting your immune system, as well. Specifically, vitamins B6 and D have been shown to play a significant role in your ability to fight off the cold and flu. Supplementing with vitamin B6 has been shown to restore immune function, while vitamin D is a potent antimicrobial agent that can help kill off bacteria and viruses.

If you follow these tips, your immune system will be strong and happy. A happy immune system means those pesky cold and flu viruses don’t stand a chance!

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