‘Tis the season for runny noses, sore throats and sick days. According to CDC data, almost half of the US population gets the flu each year, which costs about 87 billion dollars per year and accounts for the loss of almost 17 million workdays each flu season.
Aside from being a drag at best and life-threatening at worst, getting sick can also amp up the stress in our work and personal life as we have to rearrange things to account for that time we had to spend shuffling between the bed and the bathroom. Because stress can further suppress our immune system function, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of trading one cold for another all season long or just feeling like we never feel quite well.
The good news is that certain foods can be helpful for supporting efficient immune system function . Here are the top five foods that Jess Cording, a dietitian and health coach for Forbes, recommends to her clients.
This herb has been used for thousands of years to treat a variety of health ailments. Its active compound, curcumin, has been touted for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. We most commonly see turmeric in powder form. Its golden color and mellow peppery flavor make it a lovely addition to grain dishes (if you haven’t tried savory oatmeal, you’re in for a treat), sauces, soups, stews and curries. You can also sneak it into smoothies or use it to make turmeric tea or golden milk. Use 1 teaspoon turmeric, 1/4 teaspoon of ground ginger, and a few grinds of black pepper, which has been shown to enhance curcumin absorption.
Yogurt is an approachable source of probiotic bacteria. These beneficial bugs have been studied for their potential to support immune system function by promoting regular digestion. Just skip the sweetened and flavored varieties to save yourself the added sugar, which is not so kind on our digestive or immune systems. Not sure what to do with plain yogurt? Try it with some cinnamon and a teaspoon of maple syrup or honey, or enjoy it with a tablespoon of ground flax or chia seeds mixed in. The added fiber is also good for digestion. Don’t eat dairy? You can choose a cultured non-dairy alternative or incorporate other fermented foods into your diet such as sauerkraut and kimchi.
- Dark Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, and chard provide a wide variety of important vitamins minerals along with flavanoids and other inflammation-fighting compounds to keep the body functioning at its peak so it can most effectively fight off invading pathogens. Adequate levels of folate, a B-vitamin found in dark leafy greens as well as oranges, beans and avocados, is important for supporting stable levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is involved in regulating the brain’s pleasure and reward centers. Because our mental wellness can directly impact our physical wellness, supporting stable levels of these mood-regulating brain chemicals like dopamine and serotonin is essential.
- Frozen Berries
Because they’re frozen at peak freshness, frozen berries are a great way to reap those antioxidant benefits even in the off-season. You can thaw them in the fridge or zap them in the microwave to add to things like oatmeal or toast or use them in sauces or enjoy them over yogurt. I love to eat them still frozen too. They’re also perfect for making nutrient-rich smoothies. What’s more, berries also provide vitamin C, a key nutrient for immune function, and fiber, which helps keep digestion regular. Most varieties provide upwards of four grams per cup.
Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in vitamin D, which has been shown to play a role in immune function. While we can synthesize vitamin D from the sun, it’s very easy to become deficient in the darker months. Two to three servings of fish per week is a great starting place, but talk to your doctor about a supplement if you don’t eat fish. These fish also provide omega-3 fatty acids, which have been studied for their potential to counteract the effects of cortisol, everyone’s favorite stress hormone.
Also: If You’re Sick, Stay Home. Seriously.
All this stuff is meant to be helpful but of course, sometimes we still get sick despite our best efforts. If you work in an office, resist the urge to drag yourself in and push through—spreading those germs doesn’t help anybody on your team. Take the time you need to rest and come back recharged and refreshed.
Jess Cording is a registered dietitian and health coach who helps busy people streamline their healthy living routine and establish a balanced relationship with food and exercise. My goal is to help make wellness approachable and enjoyable by empowering people to bridge the gap between …MORE
To learn more about how to streamline your healthy living routine and enjoy a more balanced relationship with food and exercise, visit JessicaCordingNutrition.com.
Original source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/jesscording/2018/10/29/what-to-eat-cold-and-flu-season/#553499c52824