As someone who’s been on the couch sick for a week…. here’s some foodspiration!
It is that time of year. Sneezing, coughs, sore throats, and the flu. My family just recovered from a horrendous round of Norovirus. Nothing like vomiting in unison to put your health in perspective.
As a dietitian, I have witnessed first hand the power of healing with whole foods. I have also seen how unhealthy food choices can cause sickness and disease. In the winter months, germs spread like wildfire, especially when you have kids that attend school. Besides a flu shot, one of your best defense mechanisms is to load your diet with flu fighting foods.
Flu Fighting Foods
1. Garlic- Garlic is a powerful food. It smells strong and a small amount can flavor a large portion of food. It contains the phyto chemical allicin, which is an antimicrobial compound strong enough to fight the worst cold and flu germs. It is best to eat 1-2 cloves of raw garlic per day to reap the benefits. Add garlic to salad dressing, marinades, or add into soups, casseroles, or eggs.
2. Vitamin C-Rich Fruits- Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, tomatoes, and lemons are high in vitamin C. Although there is conflicting evidence if vitamin C can prevent the flu, it can reduce the duration and severity of the flu or colds. Although it is second nature to reach for orange juice when you feel sick, skip it. Eat the fruit instead. An 8 oz. glass of juice is equivalent to about 6 oranges, which is way more than you would ever eat in one sitting. Also, juice is very high in sugar. And pathogens love sugar!
3. Yogurt- Fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir are full of pre- and pro-biotics (active live cultures) that help keep germs out of the GI tract. Look for yogurt that is low in sugar (under 15 g) and low in fat.
4. Mushrooms-Medicinal mushrooms have many healing properties. One flu fighting nutrient is selenium. It helps white blood cells produce cytokines, which clear sickness and beta glucan which destroys infection. Throw a handful of shitake mushrooms in soups or stews, and add portobello in your eggs or in sandwiches. You can also take mushroom supplements daily for an extra boost.
5. Sweet Potato- Yellow and orange veggies like sweet potatoes, carrots, and winter squash contain beta carotene which promotes growth and the development of the immune system. Toss them in flu fighting soups, in pasta dishes, or as a side dish.