It’s no secret that the annual cold and flu season is coming. In addition to vaccination, to protect your body from colds and flu you will help elementary care for your own health, which consists in choosing the right foods that can strengthen immunity.
When it comes to health, here, as in football, the rule is: the best defense is an attack. Take it with all responsibility to your own well-being. Choose a healthy diet, give up harmful habits, such as smoking and drinking. This will help strengthen the immune system, which can easily resist the pathogens of diseases.
First and foremost, you must choose a healthy diet that excludes surrogate foods that weaken immunity. So the excess fat in the diet reduces the activity of the immune system. Sugar prevents the ability of leukocytes to resist viruses and bacteria.
Next, we offer 10 recommendations on what should be included in the diet, in order to protect the body against cold and flu.
Live active cultures contained in yogurt (probiotics) are useful bacteria that protect the gastrointestinal tract of an organism from pathogenic bacteria. Studies of the University of Vienna in Austria have shown that daily consumption of about 200 grams of yogurt is much more useful for immunity than food additives containing probiotics.
Another study in Sweden showed that patients who drank products containing lactobacillus reuteri, specific probiotics, stimulating leukocytes, contracted 33% less frequently than those given placebo. Regardless of the manufacturer, to strengthen the protective properties of the body, it is sufficient to take yogurt with live bacteria every day.
Even if you still catch the flu or cold, yogurt will help to avoid complications from the work of the gastrointestinal tract. To accustom your children to eat this product, pamper them in the morning with yoghurt parfait, for this mix the chocolate Greek yogurt with ¼ cup oat flakes that are extremely rich in fiber.
Oats, barley and other whole grains
Fiber is not only useful for the heart and digestive organs, it is also effective in fighting bacteria and viruses. Beta-glucan, a component of fiber (in particular oats and barley), is able to activate white blood cells macrophages and neutrophils, which help the immune system protect the body from harmful bacteria. Nutrients can also contribute to the rapid healing of wounds and the more effective action of antibiotics.
The daily rate of fiber should be 25 grams. However, most people receive hardly 11 grams – primarily because of the use of refined flour products and a lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet.
Water, water, water
Drink as much water as possible in winter. Our body needs water to keep moisture in the mucous membranes of the body, which prevents small cracks. These cracks are dangerous because pathogenic microorganisms can penetrate through them.
Some people do not like to drink plain water, in this case it is necessary to replenish the moisture reserves in the body with tea. As a result of one study, it was found that in the blood of people who drank 5 cups of black tea a day for 2 weeks, the content of antiviral interferons was 10 times higher than those in the blood of those who drank indifferent hot drinks. The amino acid responsible for the activation of immunity (L-Tianin) is found in both black and green tea – even in their caffeine-free versions. Another substance that is contained in all teas, alkylamine, is able to keep the immune system T cells in a state of readiness to fight bacteria and allergens.
Hot drinks are also indicated for colds or flu, as they open the stuffed nasal canals.
Chicken broth is able to prevent the movement of inflammation cells. This is important, because the symptoms of a cold are a reaction to the accumulation of cells in the bronchi. The amino acid cysteine, which is released from the chicken during cooking, resembles the drug acetylcysteine, which helps to withdraw phlegm from the bronchi.
Add salt to the broth, even if you usually try to use this product less often. Salt can also be useful for colds, it reduces sputum no worse than any cough remedy. Put vegetables and spices in broth – you will get an excellent immunostimulating agent.
Garlic contains the active substance alicin, which fights against infections and bacteria. During the next study, patients were given garlic extract for 12 weeks, resulting in a 2/3 drop in the number of colds. So do not be too lazy to crumble some garlic in that same chicken broth.
Pumpkin and sweet potato
Orange vegetables are rich in antioxidants, also pumpkin and sweet potato contain beta-carotene, which helps fight harmful bacteria. Beta-carotene is the starting substance of vitamin A, which keeps the skin healthy, forming the first barrier against pathogens and viruses. Other fruits and vegetables rich in beta-carotene are carrots, large-squash pumpkin and cantaloupe.
If you do not want to remove the pulp from a melon, take the usual pumpkin puree, it has the same properties. Try adding a tablespoon of puree to Greek yogurt – you get a double immunostimulant.
Fungi help to increase the number of leukocytes and their activity, making them more aggressive. Shiitake, Maytake and Reishi mushrooms have the best effect on the immune system.
Fish and seafood
Selenium, a mineral found in crustaceans: oysters, lobsters, crabs and bivalve molluscs, helps leukocytes produce cytokines – proteins that remove the influenza virus from the body. Salmon, mackerel and herring are rich in omega-3 acids, which reduce inflammation, increasing air intake and protecting the lungs from respiratory infections.
You can try the seaweed. They contain more vitamin C than in oranges. This vitamin is known for its antiviral properties and helps reduce the time of illness.
Beef (and other products containing zinc)
Red meat contains a lot of zinc, an important nutrient necessary for the development of leukocytes, which recognize and destroy harmful bacteria and viruses. The lack of zinc increases the risk of infection. For those who save on red meat, it will be useful to know that zinc is found in seafood such as oysters and crabs, as well as in vitaminized oat flakes, baked beans, yoghurts and nuts (especially cashews).
Additional recommendations for improving immunity
There are habits that reduce immunity, which is better to get rid of:
- Smoking. If you smoke, drop it. Cigarette smoke contains more than 4,000 chemical components, at least 43 of which are carcinogenic (cause cancer). Smoking also causes heart and lung disease. Chronic diseases and changes in internal tissues caused by smoking undermine the immune system.
- Recreation. Have a rest more. Lack of sleep adversely affects immunity, as it reduces its protective functions and reduces the number of so-called killer cells that fight microbes.
- Stress. Try to reduce stress. Constant, severe stress directly affects immunity and reduces the effectiveness of killer T cells, and also reduces the activity of other cells called macrophages.
- Physical exercises. It’s time to turn to physical exercises. Sedentary lifestyle has a negative impact on health. Millions of people today suffer from diseases that can be avoided with the help of exercises. Only 30 minutes of aerobics per day will significantly increase immunity.
- Insulation. Finally, by no means become a hermophobe and do not isolate yourself, thinking that this will protect you from flu and colds. In fact, isolation entails a deterioration in health, reducing the body’s ability to resist viruses. Depression also has a negative effect on immunity. Do not limit the communication with family and friends at this time of year, just try to wash your hands more often and get a flu shot.