According to the CDC organization, there are SIX steps you can take to reduce the chances of getting the flu this season. Besides the usual advice wash your hands and avoid other sick people, the last step suggests incorporating other healthy practices, like eating nutritious food!
I'm thrilled to see the organization acknowledging the impact of healthy eating on fighting off the flu virus. Some other suggestions are to be physically active and drink lots of fluids. If you need another reason to incorporate healthy habits in your life, here it is!
No one wants to be sick, and sometimes it is unavoidable. However, the healthier you are, the stronger you are to fight off bacteria and viruses and rebound from them faster. Stress is a huge factor in preventing the flu or cold like symptoms. I usually get sick right when I feel like I can finally relax after a stressful deadline has passed. Life is so very unfair! :)
I think we can all agree that we would like to spend more days feeling good over feeling bad, so below is a list of things that can help with just that!
Stay Healthy Throughout the Year
Spice up Your Life – Spices and herbs have some of highest antioxidant levels that you can include in your diet! Clove came out with one of the highest levels, followed by peppermint, allspice, cinnamon, and oregano. The thing to remember is that amounts can vary drastically due to factors like where it is grown and type.
Eat Your Berries – No matter what time of the year it is, thanks to freezers, you can enjoy berries even when the season doesn’t allow the pleasure of enjoying fresh ones. Especially high antioxidant berries include black currants, wild strawberries, and cranberries!
Fruit – Natures sweet treat will help protect you from a drawn out cold so fill up on dried apples, dried plums, dried apricots, and prunes. Seriously, dried fruit is like candy so take this excuse to add them to your daily diet.
Fill up on Grains – Grain products that are the highest in antioxidant levels include buckwheat, millet, and barley flours.
Chocolate - The darker the chocolate, the higher its antioxidant levels, so grab yourself a piece of 60-70% (or higher if you dare) and enjoy this easy treat!
Vegetables - You knew veggies would have to make it on this list! For a boost of antioxidants include artichokes, curly kale, and chili for the highest levels of antioxidants! Olives, red cabbage, and red beets are good sources of antioxidants as well.
Beverages - Coffee (make it a double espresso for the biggest kick), red wine, pomegranate juice, green tea, grape juice, prune juice, and black tea. Remember, with juices you have to careful to read the labels. Make sure it's 100% fruit juice and keep an eye out on the sugar content.
Exercise – Of course, staying active is important to include. Even a brisk 30-minute walk can help boost your immune system. Too cold outside? Sign up for a class and if you do it with a friend you are probably more likely to stick with it!
Sleep – Our bodies need sleep to rejuvenate. If we are exhausted, how can we expect our immune system to keep us healthy. Everyone is different, but aim for 8-9 hours a night!
Stress Management – I mentioned the impact stress can have on our health so it is important to find a way to manage the stress in our lives. Whether it is through exercise (see step 8), meditating, or screaming into a pillow, figure out a way to lower your levels!
Remember: No matter what we do, we will still get sick occasionally. The goal is to reduce the number of colds you get, and when you do get sick, to only have it last a few days!
1. Carlsen MH, Halvorsen BL, Holte K, et al. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide. Nutrition Journal. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2841576/. Published 2010. Accessed September 22, 2017.
2. Influenza (Flu). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/flu/consumer/prevention.htm. Published September 12, 2017. Accessed September 22, 2017.