In the Northern hemisphere, it’s now peak time for the flu and colds, which grip millions of Americans each year. And contrary to common belief, the best way to combat viruses and bacteria is not in your medicine cabinet – it’s in your kitchen.
Topical BioMedics, makers of Topricin Pain Relief and Healing Cream, has partnered with Roufia Payman, the director of outpatient nutritional services at Northern Dutchess Hospital in Rhinebeck, NY, to provide a list of nutritional tips for top immunity-boosting foods that can help you achieve optimum healing and wellness.
We’ve all heard the saying “Starve a fever and feed a cold”…Or is it, “Feed a fever and starve a cold?” The actual phrase, which dates back to the middle 1500s, claims we should starve a fever and feed a cold. But there’s no reason to be confused because the good news is that starving is never the correct answer, making it easy to remember you should feed both.
Foods that are rich in nutrients may help keep you well, or if you do succumb to illness, will help your body fight off the infection.
For starters, it’s always a good idea to include more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet as they provide an abundance of all important antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Zinc is an important mineral, as well, as it has antioxidant effects plus is vital to the body’s resistance to infection and to stimulate the immune system. Foods rich in zinc include eggs, meats, nuts, seafood, seeds, wheat germ and whole grains.
The mineral selenium helps to boost immunity and increase your body’s production of cytokines, which help remove the flu virus. Selenium-rich foods include Brazil nuts and seafood, particularly lobster, oysters, crab, clams, tuna and cod.
It’s important to think protein, too. It’s vital to help build and repair tissue and fight viral and bacterial infections. Choose lean sources like skinless chicken, turkey, sardines, and beans, as well as a good-quality whey protein powder.
Here’s a list of top immunity-boosting foods for optimum healing and wellness
Nothing beats chicken soup
Grandma was right – nothing beats chicken soup for fending off sniffles. Not only does it provide the fluids needed to help fight off viruses, it’s a powerful mucus stimulant so it helps clear nasal congestion as well as thin mucus. It’s also thought to have a mild anti-inflammatory effect than can help ease cold symptoms. Keep some organic chicken stock on hand, because studies have found that even commercial soup is as effective as homemade.
Use flavorful healers
If you want to punch up the healing power of your chicken soup – or any other dish – add plenty of garlic and onions. When combined, these flavorful healers contain numerous antiseptic and immunity boosting compounds. As an added plus, garlic helps to open clogged sinuses.
‘Srhoom it away
No herbal medicine cabinet should be without mushrooms. They increase the production of cytokines, which are cells that help fight off infection. They also contain polysaccharides, which are compounds that support the immune system. The most potent cold- and flu-fighting ‘shrooms are shitake, maitake and reishi.
“C” is for citrus
Citrus fruits contain hefty doses of powerhouse vitamin C. Studies have found that this antioxidant can reduce cold symptoms by 23 percent, and all that’s needed is just one to eight grams (1,000 to 8,000 milligrams) to do the trick. Besides citrus fruits, other foods that have high amounts of vitamin C include papaya, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, tomatoes, broccoli, brussel sprouts and red bell peppers.
Studies have shown that eating a cup of low-fat yogurt each day can reduce your susceptibility to colds by 25 percent. The beneficial bacteria is Lactobacillus reuteri which has been found to block the replication of viruses that invade the body when we get sick. Not all brands have that particular bacteria, so check labels and be sure to go organic.
While yogurt is a great source of probiotics, some have more than others and we can really benefit by taking an additional supplement. Other immune-booster “musts” are vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acid.
Sip when you’re sick
Hot tea is soothing and a great home remedy, helping to thin mucus and ensure proper hydration. For added health benefit, sip green or black tea – both are filled with flavonoids, which are potent antioxidants.
Ginger comes to the aid when we’re sick in some powerful ways. Besides soothing a scratchy throat, it has chemicals called sesquiterpenes that target rhinoviruses – which are the most common family of cold viruses – as well as substances that help suppress coughing. Ginger is also a natural pain and fever reducer and a mild sedative so you’ll feel more comfortable and be able to rest easier. Add a couple of tablespoons of shredded gingerroot to your tea, or make ginger tea (it comes in tea bags, but you can also simmer fresh sliced ginger to make a potent brew).
Honey of a cure
Honey has numerous medicinal properties and because it coats your throat it is a natural way to soothe sore throats. It also has antioxidant and antimicrobial properties to help fight infections from viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Skip the common clover honey that you’ll find in the supermarket as it has the lowest antioxidant level. Look for buckwheat honey, which has the highest. (A note of caution: never give honey to children under one years of age because their immune systems are not developed enough to ward off infantile botulism, which is carried in honey spores.)
It’s ironic that black pepper – the spice best known for making you sneeze – can ward off the sniffles. Black peppercorns are high in piperine, a compound known for its anti-fever and pain-relieving qualities.
Spice it up
Make recipes more flavorful with garlic, thyme, rosemary, sage and oregano – while spicing things up, you’ll also get an added kick of immune-busters, too.
Follow these tips, nourish yourself with these immunity-boosting foods and have a happy and healthy season.
Roufia Payman is a contributing columnist to Natural Healing, Natural Wellness, a newsletter published by Topical BioMedics featuring insight from experts in various health fields. The newsletter is available free at www.topricin.com. Sign up to receive updates when a new issue of the newsletter is published as well as other news and information.
Topricin is available in pharmacies, natural food stores and other fine retailers nationwide, including Whole Foods, Vitamin Shoppe, Vitamin World, Fred Meyer, Wegmans, and other retail stores throughout the U.S., as well as direct from the Topical BioMedics’ online store.
To learn more about Topricin, go to http://www.topricin.com. (if you run, or are prone to muscle aches associated with working out, I highly HIGHLY recommend Topricin. It’s amazing!)