December is a jam-packed month. It is filled with holiday celebrations, mine and my Mom’s Birthdays (on the same day no less), and it is the unofficial beginning of snowboarding season, woohoo! With so much to do there is absolutely no time to get sick! Aside from the obvious precautions like washing your hands, staying away from sick people, and not licking doorknobs (hehe), what can you do to prevent yourself from getting sick this cold and flu season? Make sure to keep your immunity up by getting enough sleep, exercising, and getting all of the right nutrients your body needs. These 4 foods have immune boosting and anti-inflammatory properties to keep you going strong this winter season.
1. Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds). Pepitas are an excellent source of protein, iron, magnesium, and zinc! Zinc not only reduces the duration of the common cold, but it has also been show to help prevent colds. In a randomized controlled trial participants taking zinc supplements had 40% fewer colds than those taking placebo. One half cup of pepita seeds has 5 mg of zinc which is about half of the RDA (recommended dietary allowance). Try them in this award winning soup!
2. Red Bell Pepper. One large red bell pepper contains 300 mg of vitamin C. The RDA for vitamin C is only 75 mg for females and 90 mg for men. Large doses of vitamin C has long been thought of as a way to prevent colds. Unfortunately, in recent studies vitamin C has fallen short in preventing colds for the general population. However, it was discovered that extra vitamin C was helpful in marathon runners and extreme endurance athletes. Some studies also show that vitamin C can reduce the severity and length of a cold. That is enough evidence for me to start chowin’ down on some peppers this winter! I will be trying this recipe to get my vitamin C in!
3. Garlic. Garlic has several health benefits such as lowering blood pressure, cholesterol and combating the cold and flu. The biologically active component of garlic is called allicin (pronounced Alison). Allicin is the component which is responsible for garlic’s strong flavor and smell. Allicin can be destroyed by heat, so when possible consume garlic raw or only cook briefly. If you have a bleeding disorder please consult your doctor before consuming large amounts of garlic, as it can inhibit platelet aggregation and lead to increased bleeding.
4. Chicken Noodle Soup. Chicken noodle soup, or noodle soup for vegetarians, may have real healing benefits if consumed while sick. Most of the benefits are fairly obvious; warm broth to sooth a sore throat, hot steam to break up nasal congestion, and that comforting feeling you get from eating soup, especially if someone else made it for you. Whats more, one study has shown that chicken noodle soup helps stop white blood cells from migrating to the lungs and essentially helps reduce upper respiratory cold symptoms. To learn more about the healing properties of soup check out this article.
I hope you find some of these natural remedies useful! What do you when you have a cold? To explore more natural treatments for the cold and flu check out the NIH website for complementary and alternative medicine.