By Rachel Venokur-Clark, Green Options
Flu season is here. With all the concern and worry surrounding the Swine flu, we may be forgetting that we are also more susceptible to the common cold and other illnesses during the winter months. There are many natural ways you can help to boost your immune system with food choices and healthy regimens. Of course, as you have seen in many articles, the first course of action is to wash your hands regularly for at least 20-30 seconds. By adding the following foods and healthy behaviors to your regime, you can help your body build its resistance to germs and help yourself stay healthy this winter.
1) Ginger: Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat the common cold and help to alleviate flu like symptoms. Ginger not only helps the body fight off infection, but is a great natural cure for indigestion or nausea.
Try adding fresh grated ginger with tamari, garlic and basil while sautéing veggies for a quick and healthy stir fry, or enjoy some ginger tea after meals.
2) Turmeric: Turmeric has many healing benefits, some of which include helping to detoxify the body, enhancing and boosting the immune system, as well as having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body and helping you to prevent cancer.
Turmeric can be added to whole grains, vegetables and bean dishes, curries and so much more.
3) Garlic: Garlic increases the immune function. It is an antibacterial, anti viral and anti fungal, acting as a natural antibiotic in your system.
Try adding raw garlic to your juicer when making fresh juices or add roasted or sautéed garlic to any recipe for a great addition.
4) Cruciferous Vegetables: The family of Cruciferous vegetables includes cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, kale, turnip, brussel sprouts, radish and watercress. Cruciferous vegetables assist the body in its fight against toxins and cancer. They are good sources of betacarotene and protect against free radical damage. They also contain vitamin C and Calcium.
If possible, eat them raw or very lightly steamed or boiled so that the important enzymes remain intact.
5) Vitamin C Foods: Citrus fruits, kiwi, guava, strawberries, broccoli, spinach, goji berries and cauliflower are all good sources of vitamin C. Vitamin C increases the production of infection fighting white blood cells and antibodies, making it easier for you to fight off germs.
Eating fruit in its whole form offers you additional nutrients and fiber, slowing down the absorption of the natural sugar and helps to prevent blood sugar spikes for most people.
Some foods or unhealthy behaviors can make a person more susceptible to germs. Making a few simple changes can help you stay healthier.
1) Drink at least eight 8oz glasses of water a day to help keep you hydrated and help flush out the toxins.
2) Avoid high fat, high sugar, processed foods that deplete your system and start eating more fruits and veggies daily.
3) Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine. Caffeine in excess can deplete your system of vital nutrients and minerals, weakening your ability to fight off germs.
4) Get a good nights sleep. You may need anywhere from 6-10 hours of sleep depending on your age, health and activity levels. Listen to your body and allow it get the immune boosting restorative sleep it needs.
5) Don’t smoke. We all know the risks here, but in case you forget, smoking damages your respiratory tract making you more susceptible to the flu, bronchitis and pneumonia.