Foods that ward off sickness

Healthy-FoodsCold and flu season lasts through April most years, which means the sounds of sniffles, sneezes, and coughs will continue a bit longer. The foods you choose can help fight germs, along with consistent hand-washing. Vitamins, minerals and the way you flavor your food can all help boost your immune system naturally.

Zinc can help you recover quicker when you get a cold. It is commonly found in red meat, beans, nuts, seafood (especially oysters), fortified grains and dairy products.

Vitamin C won’t cure a cold but it does boost your immune system. It’s found in grapefruit, oranges, sweet potatoes, and cantaloupe. At the first sign of a cold, eat more of these foods to increase vitamin C in your system.

Beta-carotene is a powerful immune-stimulating antioxidant. It is in red, orange or yellow foods such as apricots, beets, carrots, corn, kale, peaches, pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes and watermelon.

Vitamin A is an important fat-soluble vitamin that helps keep your skin and mucus membranes strong to fight off infection. It also boosts white blood cells, the fighters of colds. Vitamin A is found in a sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, kale and romaine lettuce.

Vitamin E is known to help with upper respiratory infections and boost your immune system. It’s found in broccoli, carrots, chard, nuts, pumpkin, spinach and sunflower seeds.

Selenium is an antioxidant that helps decrease inflammation, which helps your body fight a cold. It is found in Brazil nuts, tuna, beef, chicken and fortified grain products (such as cereal). Most people eat enough selenium through the food they already consume. For example, one Brazil nut contains enough selenium for an entire day. Eating too much selenium can be harmful to your health, so keep an eye on selenium levels in your food.

Garlic not only flavors your food but it also helps fight against colds.

Anise is a seed that tastes like black licorice that can be added to foods and teas. It is found in the spice aisle of a grocery store. It has strong antibacterial properties, and can help with coughs and congestion. Adding a teaspoon to tea or baked goods will provide enough to help fight a cold.

Fennel is another seed that can help clear up congestion and coughs. It can also help with heartburn and bloating. If you eat the fennel plant, especially the bulb, you will also get a nice source of vitamin C.
Tea not only soothes a sore throat and helps loosen congestion, but it also has flu-fighting abilities. Teas contain catechins which fight the flu, boost immunity and increase metabolism.

Blueberries are full of powerful antioxidants. They contain one very potent antioxidant: anthocyanin, which gives a blueberry its natural blue color.

Oats are high in fiber, especially beta-glucans. Beta-glucans can help lower cholesterol; boost immunity and supports white blood cell activity.

Boosting your immune system can be easy and tasty by adding these foods into your diet. It is also important to drink at least 64 ounces of water throughout the day, practice good hand-washing techniques to stop the spread of germs, and get enough sleep at night to keep you healthy this year.

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Category: Nutrition

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center is the largest hospital in Missouri and the largest private employer in the St. Louis region. An affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has a 1,800 member medical staff with many who are recognized as "Best Doctors in America." They are supported by residents, interns and fellows, in addition to nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals.

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