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Now that cold and flu season is upon us how about some tips & tricks for staying healthy? Over the next couple of weeks I will be posting some things you can try to help boost your immune system and snub the common cold.
Colds and flus are caused by viruses and cannot be treated by antibiotics. The best way to prevent and overcome a cold is to naturally strengthen your immune system. The immune system needs vitamins A, C, and E plus minerals like zinc and selenium to fight these viruses. Today I will focus on my top 10 healing foods that will provide you with these nutrients to support cold & flu prevention!
Drum roll, please.
# 1 Use Stevia: Sugar suppresses the immune system so sweeten only with Stevia.
#2 Crimini mushrooms: Known as “baby portabella,” one serving has over 50% of your selenium and 15% of your zinc needs. Sauté some in a pan and add a can of crushed tomatoes for a quick sauce.
#3 Garlic & Onions: Garlic is known to be antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal and have antioxidant effects. Garlic has a long folkloric history as a treatment for colds and is commonly stated to strengthen the immune system. However, up until 2001, there was no supporting evidence for this use. Since then, however, evidence including a well-designed double-blind study does suggest that regular use of garlic extract can help prevent colds (source). Aim to eat 1 clove/day for their benefits. The flavonoids in onions actually work with vitamin C to help kill harmful bacteria. Consider making a delicious pot of onion soup to warm you up.
#4 Raw pumpkin & sunflower seeds: A quarter-cup of these tasty seeds will provide you with 90% of your daily vitamin E. They are also high in zinc, a critical mineral for a healthy immune system. Toss some on your morning oatmeal, your salad, or add some to your greek yogurt.
#5 Citrus fruits: Rich in immune boosting vitamin C, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium and other antioxidant flavonoids, have an orange or grapefruit with your breakfast or start your day with some warm water with fresh, organic lemon juice.
#6 Dark Leafy Greens: These phytochemicals give the vitamins in food a supercharged boost. The darker the better. Vegetables contain rich amounts of vitamins A and C, both antioxidants that can strengthen your immune system. They also contain Omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin D, K, B1, B2, B6 and supply rich amounts of flu-preventing minerals including zinc, iron, selenium, magnesium and copper.
#7 Kefir: An excellent food source of the probiotic acidophilus. 70% of your immune system lines the digestive tract and a diet low in fiber, and high in trans fats and sugar creates an overgrowth of unhealthy bacteria in that digestive tract compromising your immune system. By promoting healthy bacteria growth with acidophilus you will be promoting a healthy digestive tract which means a healthy immune system. Kefir is much higher in acidophilus than yogurt and it also has nearly no lactose and is well tolerated by lactose intolerant people. Don’t like Kefir? Supplement with a quality probiotic for at least 2 months in the winter.
#8 Herbal Tea: Two staple immune boosting teas are Ginger & Lemon Tea and Elderberry Tea. Ginger & Lemon is great for strengthening immunity. Grate some ginger root and add 1 tsp to a cup of boiling water and steep for 3 minutes. Add 1 tsp organic lemon juice or ¼ fresh lemon. Sweeten with Stevia or raw honey. Elderberry Tea has been proven to be the most potent anti-flu remedy and is an excellent source of Vitamin C. Drink at least 1 cup/day.
#9 Spinach: A powerhouse! One-cup of cooked spinach gives you 377% of your daily vitamin A, 30% of vitamin C, 20% of vitamin E, and 15% of zinc. Try adding frozen chopped spinach to your favorite soup, tomato sauce, or brown rice-based dishes.
#10 Red bell peppers: One cup of raw red pepper has 291% of your daily vitamin C. Not only that, but you also get 100% of vitamin A. You can top your salad or sandwiches with red pepper.
REMEMBER! Drink plenty of water! To boost your immune system drink water with organic lemon juice in it. Water carries micro-organisms out of your system and the lemon juice not only increases the liver’s detoxifying capabilities but also supplies you with a natural source of Vitamin C and is alkalizing to your body’s pH levels. Aim to drink ½ your body weight in ounces of water or non-dehydrating fluids like herbal teas, soup and veggies juices.
Stay tuned for my next post which will have some simple every day things you can do to prevent that darn cold and flu from coming for a visit.
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In January 2013 I realized I needed to do something to improve my health. I spent 2012 on maternity leave and often neglected taking care of my own health (sleepless nights and caring for a tiny human will do that!). Not to mention the many years before that where health was at the bottom of my list of priorities. Luckily, I discovered Lisa's 30 day green smoothie challenge. The recipes were incredible and a green smoothie drinker was born! But I didn't stop there. Starting each day in such a healthy way led me to consult with a naturopath (it would have been Lisa if we were in the same city), do an elimination diet, and discover that I have sensitivities to wheat and milk. I changed to a whole foods-based diet (most of the time) and took up running. In the span of 8.5 months I went from being tired and sluggish on the couch (literally - I could run for one minute at a time before having to walk) to having enough energy to run the Detroit International Half Marathon. I actually RAN the whole thing! And I lost almost 60lbs along the way! Thank you, Lisa, for being my catalyst. Your challenge kept me interested in a new way of living and saved me! I continue to drink a green smoothie every day for breakfast. What a wonderful way to start each day!
Thank you thank you thank you!!!
Imogen Meloche Windsor, Ontario