Monday, November 24, 2008

Ask-A-Nutritionist (Tucker)

Q: I've been getting sick already, and it's barely November. Although I've been loading up on cold medicine and vitamin C, I'd like to know if there are other foods that will naturally strengthen my system to prevent such colds in the coming months or if there are foods that can help me eliminate a cold once I catch it. -Tucker

A: Hi Tucker,

Winter is fast approaching, but you don’t have to get bogged down by catching a cold. Staying healthy is just a matter of knowing which foods to load up on as the cold weather creeps in. Getting extra doses of vitamin C is always a good idea. We recommend trying Emergen-C once or twice a day; it is easy to drink and tastes great. But if you are really feeling under the weather, here are some foods you should include in your diet:

  • Yogurt: The probiotics, or “good” bacteria in yogurt may help improve your immune system’s response to viruses. They can also help protect the body against harmful bacteria or infections
  • Turmeric: Turmeric is a yellow spice that’s most commonly found in curry and yellow mustard. It contains curcumin, a polyphenol lauded for its strong flu and cold-fighting properties
  • Garlic: Garlic has antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, anticancer and antioxidant properties. The pungent smell is a small price to pay for all these health benefits
  • Ginger: Ginger can help reduce congestion and has anti-inflammatory and anti-nauseant properties. It can also help prevent nausea and vomiting, making it useful to have in case you do catch a cold
  • Green tea: A cup of tea provides more than just warmth and comfort. Green tea is filled with flavonoids, which are antioxidants. Most of the flavonoids in tea are catechins, which are believed to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Mushrooms: Mushrooms are probiotic – they help our body strengthen itself and fight off illness restoring our body’s balance and natural resistance to disease. Mushrooms also have analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, and blood pressure-lowering effects. White button mushrooms are good for you, but try more exotic varieties like shitake and maitake for different health benefits.
  • Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables include cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnips, Brussels sprouts, radishes, arugula, bok choy, mustard greens, Swiss chard, and more. Cruciferous vegetables are loaded with phytochemicals and antioxidants. They are a great choice in the winter months when summer fruits like berries are not available.

Rachel S. Beller, MS, RD
Beller Nutritional Institute, LLC

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