It's that time of year again – colds and flu are thriving and the short days and cold mornings make it hard to exercise, get out of bed and even find the motivation to eat well.
When it comes to keeping cold and flu symptoms at bay, eating nutrient rich food is of crucial importance. Not only can giving the body the right vitamins and minerals to help fend off illness, it can also reduce the severity of symptoms and as a result the length of time you are not at your best.
Dehydration is surprisingly the most common reason bugs tend to stick around and continue to make you feel sick. Congestion, runny noses and a small intake of fluid can make headaches and fevers worse, prolonging the effects of a cold. Even if you do not feel like it, if you are suffering from any cold like symptoms you need to increase your intake of fluids. 100% fruit or vegetable juices, herbal teas or plain water are all good choices. Avoid cola and energy drinks completely as they can act as diuretics drawing fluid away from the body.
Links have been drawn between a high Vitamin C intake and a reduction in cold-like symptoms for hundreds of years. Unfortunately there is only a small amount of scientific evidence that proves that a high dose of Vitamin C can reduce the length of a cold once it is present.
Nevertheless, foods rich in Vitamin C including kiwi fruit, berries, tomatoes and red capsicums are all antioxidant and vitamin rich foods which can only offer positive nutritional benefits in times of health or illness. Fresh fruits and vegetables also have high water contents and help to aid hydration.
Soup is another power-food routinely linked to helping sick people get better quickly. Soup has high water content but most importantly, chicken soup made using the actual chicken bones will contain some of the bone marrow. Bone marrow is thought to have a number of powerful immune stimulating properties which is where the link between chicken soup and health originated hundreds of years ago. Add plenty of vegetables in addition to the chicken stock made from bones and you will be on the right track. And, unfortunately no, the tinned varieties of soup do not count! Check out this yummy chicken and vegetable soup recipe and try it for yourself.
Finally there are a number of supplements including Echinacea, garlic and a variety of herbs promoted as cures and preventives of colds and flu. While the jury is still out on many of these supplements, there are a number of powerful medicinal properties associated with fresh herbs in particular which makes them a great addition to your diet whether you are feeling under the weather or not. Fresh chili, garlic, ginger and parsley are just a few of the ones that are easy to add to your favourite dishes and which just may help to ward off the Winter bugs.
Until next time, take care and stay healthy!