Let's hop on the train with the rest of the nation and talk about Coronavirus.
To be honest, I'm more concerned, at the moment, with the blanket of pollen covering every imaginable surface. Toilet paper shortage? Please. I'll be stocking up on Kleenex.
It does seem timely though to talk a little about what healthy eating, or rather certain food choices, can do to positively affect your immune system.
If you're looking for ways to prevent colds and the flu, your first step should be a visit to your local grocery store. Here's what you should be picking up:
1. Citrus Fruits
Grapefruits, Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Tangerines, Clementines...
Your body doesn't produce or store Vitamin C so, for continued health, you need to replenish it daily. With such a wide variety to choose from, it's easy to add a squeeze of citrus to any meal.
2. Red Bell Peppers
This surprised me quite a bit -
Ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain twice as much vitamin C as citrus. They’re also a rich source of beta carotene. Besides boosting your immune system, vitamin C may help maintain healthy skin. Beta carotene helps keep your eyes and skin healthy.
Did I just hear my 3-year-old say, "Yuck"? Sorry, kiddo. We'll keep this one in the weekly dinner rotation.
Broccoli is supercharged with vitamins and minerals. Packed with vitamins A, C, and E, as well as other antioxidants and fiber, it's one of the healthiest foods you put on the table.
The key to keeping its power intact is to cook it as little as possible — or better yet, not at all.
4. Garlic (my favorite)
We go through a jar of this each week in our house.
It adds a little zing to food and it's a must-have for your health. Garlic’s immune-boosting properties seem to come from a heavy concentration of sulfur-containing compounds, such as allicin.
Ginger, like Vitamin C, is another ingredient many turn to after getting sick. It may help decrease inflammation, which can help to reduce a sore throat and other inflammatory illnesses. Ginger can also help to decrease nausea.
Not a big fan of this when cooked, but who doesn't love a good spinach salad?
Spinach makes the list not just because it's rich in vitamin C. It's also packed with numerous antioxidants and beta carotene, which may increase the infection-fighting ability of our immune systems. Spinach is healthiest when it’s cooked as little as possible (thank goodness) so that it retains its nutrients. However, light cooking enhances its vitamin A and allows other nutrients to be released from oxalic acid.
Look for yogurts that have "live and active cultures" printed on the label, like Greek yogurt. These cultures may stimulate your immune system to help fight diseases.
Try to get plain yogurts rather than the kinds that are pre-flavored and loaded with sugar. You can sweeten plain yogurt yourself with healthy fruits and a drizzle of local honey (bye-bye pollen sniffles) instead.
When it comes to preventing and fighting off colds, vitamin E tends to take a backseat to vitamin C. However, vitamin E is key to a healthy immune system.
It’s a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it requires the presence of fat to be absorbed properly. Nuts, such as almonds, are packed with the vitamin and also have healthy fats.
A half-cup serving, which is about 46 whole, shelled almonds, provides nearly 100 percent of the recommended daily amount of vitamin E.
Like papayas, kiwis are naturally full of a ton of essential nutrients, including folate, potassium, vitamin K, and vitamin C. Vitamin C boosts white blood cells to fight infection, while kiwi’s other nutrients keep the rest of your body functioning properly.
Did you know that when you’re sick, chicken soup is more than just a feel-good food with a placebo effect?
It helps to improve symptoms of a cold and also helps to protect you from getting sick in the first place.
Poultry, such as chicken and turkey, is high in vitamin B-6. About 3 ounces of light turkey or chicken meat contains 40 to 50 percent of your daily recommended amount of B-6.
Vitamin B-6 is vital to the formation of new and healthy red blood cells.
Stock or broth made by boiling chicken bones contains gelatin, chondroitin, and other nutrients helpful for gut healing and immunity.
This last one was the biggest surprise to me. The more you know, right?