Influenza season was tough this year! Who didn't have at least a family member come down with the cold or flu? I tell my clients before this period starts that "prevention is the best cure" and the best barrier to avoid the stuffy noses, severe aches and fever is a strong immune system fueled by the essential mix of a balanced healthy diet and a smart living style.
Rely more on fruits and vegetables:
People tend to eat fewer servings of fruits and veggies during winter time when they should be having more. Make sure to rely more on those in each and every meal to get the required vitamins and anti-inflammatory agents
· Choose foods and juices that have vitamin A (in oranges, yellow fruits and vegetables, and dark green leafs), vit. C (in kiwi, orange, strawberry, broccoli, parsley), vit. E (in walnuts, almonds, vegetable oils), and flavonoids (red wine, red onion, dark chocolate).
· Provide your body with anti-inflammatory agents that are essential to both preventing and healing from the bothering colds and getting you up and going again! Anti-inflammatory agents exist in garlic, sweet potato, broccoli, olive oil, blueberry, papaya, green tea, spices such as ginger, curry and more.
Choose healthy living and eating styles
In addition to the required fruits and veggies, don't forget to boost your immunity with other healthy eating and living choices
· Yogurt, with probiotics, is essential to making you feel strong and healthy! Include it in your daily menu!
· Protein sources such as lean meat, chicken, fish, eggs, and beans provide you with the needed amino acids to form the components of your immune system. They will also provide you with iron which is essential to making you feel stronger
· Don’t forget to drink lots of water to hydrate your body. The lack of adequate hydration, which usually occurs in winter months, makes the lining of the respiratory system thicker and conducive to the establishment and development of viruses and bacteria and thus the contraction of the flu.
· Avoid sugary and fatty foods as they are not a source of vitamins or minerals and will, most probably, take the place of other foods that can fortify your immune system.
· Exercise! It has been proven that there is strong correlation between exercise and desease prevention. Exercise is important all year round, especially in winter, so have a set plan to stay active during that season. Don't forget to take your training tools when you travel; almost all hotels have gyms and indoor pools where you can practice some sports!
As a final note, from personal experience I tend to find that a good bowl of soup made with fresh vegetables and a bit of chicken or lean meat on winter nights can only do good to you so "use and abuse soups :)". Having a hot cup of herbal tea in-between meals will work wonders in keeping you warm and providing hydration. Another tip is to boil garlic and lemon with skin and drink to help you get healed quickly!
Hoping that no one of you will get a cold this winter!
Samia Khoury Dietitian