How to Protect Yourself From Colds and Flu

sneezingIt’s that time when sniffly, sneezy, and wheezy rear their ugly heads. No, these are not characters from a children’s book, but you will definitely become acquainted with them if you are hit with a cold or worse, the flu.
We all know that we need to wash our hands, avoid touching our faces, and avoid getting too close to people who are already ill.  You can, of course, opt for the flu vaccine, but getting it does not guarantee that you won’t get the flu because there are different strains of flu and the flu shot may not cover the ones you might have been exposed to.
The best defense is to eat as healthfully as possible because doing this offers you the best protection against colds and flu.  Not only can eating well help prevent you from getting ill in the first place, but it can reduce the length and severity of illness if you do get sick. The key here is to eat a variety of fruits and vegetables that contain the micronutrients required to support proper function of the immune system.  And did you know that phytochemicals from colorful fruits and vegetables have anti-microbial and immune-boosting effects?
Let’s take a look at some nutritional powerhouses in the plant world.

Mushroom 2
Mushrooms are simply amazing! They have a unique ability to activate the body’s natural immune defenses. In fact, eating white button mushrooms daily was shown to boost immune defenses in mucosal linings such as those in the mouth and respiratory tract. Be sure to eat your mushrooms cooked because many raw culinary mushrooms contain a potentially harmful compound called agaritine which is greatly reduced when they are cooked. CLICK HERE to read more about the miraculous mushroom.
Cruciferous 2
Eat cruciferous vegetables like kale, collards, mustard greens, arugula, watercress, broccoli, broccoli rabe, cabbage, and cauliflower.  These powerhouses contain potent health-promoting compounds that support the immune system and have antimicrobial properties. To best maximize those powerful compounds, chop cruciferous vegetables finely, eat them raw and chew well. This is the best way to eat these vegetables because chewing them raw activates more of those powerful compounds. They are deactivated by heat, but you can still get them from your cooked cruciferous vegetables. Just chop them finely before you cook them and add some raw cruciferous to your meal. For example, I’ll make a plate of steamed kale and broccoli and add some raw arugula. Add some homemade hummus and its heaven! CLICK HERE to learn how to make my in-a-hurry hummus.
Powerful Berries
Berries are potent anti-cancer foods that also protect against viruses like colds and flu. Berries are also loaded with resveratrol which is an antioxidant phytochemical with strong antiviral effects. Strawberries are particularly high in vitamin C, which protects immune cells from oxidative damage. On another note, the synergy between blueberries, strawberries, and leafy greens (like kale) activates phytochemical repair mechanisms that arm your cells against damage from toxins and aging. I love that!
Onions Garlic
Have some garlic and onions daily. Garlic and onion phytochemicals have virus-killing activity against common respiratory viruses. Like the cruciferous vegetables, the protective compounds in onions and garlic are maximized when they are raw, chopped finely and chewed well. If you find that you have issues eating these raw. Just have a small amount of each and chop very finely. Then mix them with whatever vegetable dish you are having.
If you do get sick, try to steer clear cold remedies because they are ineffective in that all they really do is mask symptoms, and some may even prolong the illness. Fever-reducing medicines are baddies too because they can actually hinder your body’s attack on the viral infection and again, prolong the illness. That said, if you experience a high fever, then it is prudent to call your doctor. Oh, and did you know that mega doses of vitamin C do not prevent colds or reduce symptoms?  Nope. The best way to get your vitamin C is from plant foods because it is accompanied by phytochemicals that work synergistically together to build your immunity. This cannot be duplicated in a vitamin C pill.
Remember that the best way to stay well is to eat well. This year, to protect yourself against cold and flu, eat a nutrient-rich diet (lots of fruits and vegetables!) to provide your body with tons of immunity-boosting phytochemicals. To your good health!

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