With the combo of the lower humidity that comes with cold weather, the tendency for people to stay huddled inside by the fire, higher stress levels, lower sleep hours, and of course the balanced holiday diet of booze, cookies and candies, the cold virus is in its glory during this time of year. So look out Granny! Below, I have gathered the leading ways to successfully fight off the common cold, as well as some key ideas on keeping the symptoms and duration of a cold to a minimum if you are already sick.
Feed a Cold…and Hydrate It
Hands down, the leading way to protect your body from a cold is to provide it with the proper fuel and nutrition it needs to run efficiently while keeping your immune system at full strength. I am personally a fan of feeding your body the correct balance of foods, as opposed to relying on vitamins and supplements to do the job. Our bodies have been digesting and breaking down whole, natural foods for generations and therefore are able to absorb and use more of the nutrients from foods as opposed to processed vitamin pills.
[one_half]"The population of people that were given probiotics in the study showed both a reduced duration of the cold (2 days instead of 4 days) as well as symptoms that were 34% less severe."[/one_half]
What are the best foods to eat when boosting your immune system?
1. Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
- Unanimously, every single source I spoke with highly recommends eating a large variety of fruits and vegetables during cold season, especially if you end up catching a cold.
- For Sarah Koszyk, MA, RD, nutrition coach & registered dietitian at MV Nutrition, her top vote for antioxidant super foods to enhance your immune health are Carotenoids & Beta-Carotene. “Time to get your colors on!” says Koszyk. Purple, blue, red, orange, and yellow foods have beta-carotene and carotenoids which boost immune health and prevent free radicals from causing oxidative damage. Carotenes also include Vitamin A, which increases the production of white blood cells. White blood cells make up our immune health!”
Koszyk recommends including these delicious foods this winter season:
- Sweet Potatoes (eat them for breakfast with some cinnamon)
- Carrots (you can mix them into a pasta sauce or soup)
- Pumpkin (add pumpkin puree to a smoothie)
To guarantee a good punch of fruits and vegetables every day, use this recipe and start off each day with a homemade Green Smoothie for breakfast.
2. Cleansing Foods for your Liver and Kidneys
- Naturally raised, organically grown fruits and vegetables are key in keeping the liver clean since the liver is the organ that detoxifies these chemicals in the body.
- Traci Freeman, executive chef and founder of Lilah Belle’s Nutritional and Organic Meals to Go agrees. “A strong immune system is the best way to fight a cold or flu. Good ol' garlic helps your liver activate enzymes that can flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing. Garlic packs the biggest antioxidant punch when eaten raw. A quick ways to use garlic are put it in your salad dressing, or toss it in last minute with your cooked meal. The heat will release a punch of flavor and immune building compounds.”
[one_half]"To guarantee a good punch of fruits and vegetables every day, use this recipe and start off each day with homemade Green Smoothie for breakfast."[/one_half]
- Freeman also adds that “ Beets are high in plant-flavonoids, which can improve the overall functions of your liver. Adding more avocados to your diet can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials. You can make a wonderful salad with kale, walnuts, avocado, beets and mandarin oranges, with a fresh garlic salad dressing. This will definitely make your organs healthier and stronger!”
Some other great foods that promote clean kidneys and liver include:
- green tea
- brussel sprouts
3. Probiotics and fermented foods
- A study posted in the October 2012 issue of the British Journal of Nutrition studied the effects of probioitic ingestion during the common cold. The population of people that were given probiotics in the study showed both a reduced duration of the cold (2 days instead of 4 days) as well as symptoms that were 34% less severe.
- For probiotics, Chris Kresser, licensed acupuncturist and practitioner of integrative medicine in Berkeley, recommends, ‘Probiotics found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and kimchi strengthen and maintain the mucosal barrier system (in our respiratory and intestinal tract), which is our first line of defense against pathogens. What’s more, 75% of our immune system is found in the gut.’
- Kombucha is also an easy way to get your daily dose of probiotics. Traveling at SFO? You can even purchase a bottle of it in Terminal 2 at The Plant Cafe to drink during your flight home.
4. Bone Broths and Bone Marrow
- Your Mom was right, that chicken soup and broth are great for beating a cold.
- Both greatly assist the immune system by carrying more oxygen into the cells of the body.
- You can easily make your own bone broth at home or Three Stone Hearth in Berkeley is an amazing source for grass-fed beef broths made fresh weekly and delivered to your door.
5. Avoid or Reduce Inflammatory Foods
Chris Kresser’s worst offenders include:
- Industrial seed oil
- Kresser explains that, “Food toxins provoke an immune reaction that can make us more vulnerable to foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.”
Also to avoid:
- Junk foods and fried foods with hydrogenated oils (skip those airport food court fries and ask for a piece of fresh fruit or salad instead)
- Alcohol since it slows down your liver’s detox function while your body is forced to process the cocktail you just drank.
6. Keep Up with Your Fluids
- Monitor your urine color to guarantee that you are keeping your body fully hydrated
- Eating a well balanced diet is just as important as water intake when it comes to staying hydrated
Other than your food, there are a few other useful reminders to assist you in staying healthy this holiday season:
- Wash your hands frequently, especially after being in crowded public areas or around people that are sick.
- Keep your stress levels low. Stress will literally eat you alive if you allow it the opportunity. Check out Day 1: The Most Wonderful Yet Stressful Time of Year (LINK) for some good ideas on keeping your stress levels under control this season.
- Sleep a minimum of 7-8 hours a night, catching even more Zzz’s when time permits. A rested body is a strong body.
- Stay on track with your workouts and fitness activities. Keeping the body moving and oxygenated will assist with filtration and your immune system.
Follow these simple instructions, keep Grandma from wandering around the yard late on Christmas Eve, and we will all have a healthy and happy New Year!
DIAKADI’s The 12 Days of Fitmas: Welcoming the holidays and year’s end as a time for relaxation and celebration, The 12 Days of Fitmas will teach people to take the time to enjoy the fun of the season, while reflecting on the year and looking forward to the year ahead. The series tackles the biggest problems that many face: stress, holiday parties, eating well, preparing for the New Year, and more.
“The holidays tend to be one of the most challenging times of the year for our clients,” says Billy Polson. “The stress, over-booked schedules, party foods, alcohol and travel plans wreak havoc on their workouts and their bodies. The 12 Days of Fitmas are our effort to help people not only survive the holidays, but thrive throughout them.”
Through The 12 Days of Fitmas, DIAKADI will demonstrate the belief that fitness is about far more than dead lifts, burpees and the spin class. Rather, fitness and health encompass all aspects of one’s lifestyle including sleep schedules, stress levels, deep breaths, proper fuel for the body, and enjoying life every day. DIAKADI will use video to demonstrate topics like “Ultimate Destination Workout,” ensuring that whether one is at a beginning or an advanced level, they will learn proper form and technique for the perfect workout regardless of location. The principals discussed in the series will be applicable beyond the holiday season and throughout the New Year.
Originally published at Patch.com.
Day 1: The Most Wonderful Yet Stressful Time of Year: Managing Holiday Stress Day 2: The Holiday Hunger Games: Holiday Party Survival Tips Day 3: The 80/20 Rule: By Damn, Enjoy the Holidays Day 4: Healthy Holiday Recipes that Don’t Suck Day 5: Planes, Trains, and Drive-thrus: Smart Choices for Food on the Go Day 6: Travel Stretches to Make Coach Feel Like First Class Day 7: Grandma Got Run Over by the Holiday Cold: Staying Healthy for the Holidays Day 8: The DIAKADI Destination Workout: Anytime, Anywhere, No Equipment Necessary Day 9: Silent Night: How to Stay Rested Throughout the Holidays Day 10: The Holiday Hustle: Getting Off the Couch and Out of the House for the Big Day Day 11: Start the New Year Off with a Bang Not a Bust: Do What You Love this New Year’s Day 12: When the Clock Strikes Midnight: Successfully Setting and Reaching Your New Year’s Goals