Stack Your Immune System

With the threat of the H1N1 flu virus this year, you might want to trade the sugary treats for some “power foods” to boost your immune system.

Nutritionists agree that by adding “super foods” to your diet, you may keep the flu at bay. Christen Sherwood, owner of the Healing House Center for Natural Health in Clear Lake, said that one such power food – elderberries – are “proven to work as good as Tamiflu.”

Elderberries are high in antioxidants and contain antiviral properties that are great for preventing flu and colds, she said.

Rita Sheldahl, a licensed and registered dietician at Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa, suggests fruits and vegetables of any kind. “The darker the color, the better they are for you,” she said.

It’s best to eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables each day. To maximize the variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, aim to consume two different colors of vegetables and fruits with each meal. Cover two-thirds of your plate with vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and beans, and one-third with lean protein.

So instead of popping cookies and drinking eggnog, try some of these foods to prevent flu and colds:

  • Spices like turmeric, cayenne pepper and garlic: Sherwood said that these spices reduce inflammation, which helps strengthen your immune system.

    “Garlic is especially great if you feel like you’re getting a cold,” said Sherwood, a certified clinic herbalist. “You can mix garlic with a honey syrup and let it sit for 48 hours and eat that as well.”

    Garlic can reduce bronchial infections and is effective in fighting sore throats and infection, while honey is brimming with healing energy and antibacterial power, she said. Try mixing honey, lemon and ginger in hot water to fight the common cold, suggests Sherwood.

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December 24, 2009