As the winter season creeps in on us, so too, unfortunately, does the cold season — as in common cold. We've all been there: waiting in line at the grocery store and the woman in front of you starts coughing, or sitting on a subway and the man next to you sneezes your way. It's as if you can actually feel the germs invading your body, and you are counting down the minutes until you are home sick in bed. What's a person to do to avoid the seemingly inevitable, you ask? The answer is…EAT!
Yep, there are certain foods you can enjoy to fight the evil microbes surrounding you. You may just avoid a case of the sniffles this winter by incorporating these defenders into your diet:
Yogurt: Some yogurt contains probiotics (AKA good bacteria) that help support your immune system. Studies have shown eating yogurt rich in probiotics can lead to an improved immune system by increasing white blood cell counts. The key is to make sure the yogurt you are eating has the strain of bacteria that supports your immune system. This benefit should be listed on the package.
- Unexpected foods make any meal or snack a tad more indulgent. Use yogurt in surprising places instead of simply a snack or part of breakfast. Our faves: a dollop on black bean soup, mixed with peanut butter for a sweet dip, mixed with herbs and spices to coat chicken.
Mushrooms: Sneak in extra defense against the sniffles by adding mushrooms to your diet. These funky looking guys contain vitamin B2 (riboflavin); just one cup of mushrooms contains 24% of your daily needs. B2 is an antioxidant that fights free radicals and is key to fighting conditions such as heart disease and cancer. Mushrooms also contain both selenium and ergothionine, which can lower the risk for joint inflammation as well as other chronic diseases by protecting body cells from damage.
- Grill a Portobello mushroom as your "steak" and round out the meal with a small baked sweet potato and sautéed spinach. Or "beef" up an omelet, a salad, quinoa or soup by adding any and all types of ‘shrooms.
Red Peppers: Gram for gram, red bell peppers have twice the vitamin C of most vitamin C-containing fruits and vegetables, even oranges. Research shows that increasing vitamin C can reduce the length of a cold as well as the severity of symptoms. Vitamin C is also known to help maintain the integrity of your skin, which is the body's first line of defense against microbes and viruses.
- Slice ‘em, dice ‘em, just make sure to eat ‘em!
-- Terri MacLeod & Keri Glassman
Copyright 2012 by NBC Universal, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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