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Playing with food

Foods for colds and flus

by Ano Puchalski, staff writer


“Think of nutritious foods as your cold-and-flu season armor,” said Jeannie Maloo, Ph.D., registered dietician and American Dietetic Association spokeswomen. “What you eat determines your body’s line of defense.”


Recent blustery weather has extended the flu season, so it’s good to know that certain vitamins and nutrients like whole grains, fruits, veggies, and low-fat meat help to beef up your immune system.

Water is also an anticold and flu suppressor. “Drinking plenty of fluids, preferably water and decaffeinated drinks gives your body what it needs to stay healthy,” Maloo added.

In late 2004, a shortage of the flu vaccine caused widespread panic through the nation and had thousands of people, especially the elderly, standing in ridiculously long lines outside doctor’s offices and clinics, sometimes for hours, in hopes of getting vaccinated. Only those under five, older than 60, or caring for infants could receive the vaccine.

If these circumstances don’t apply to you, then there are a few precautions you may want to take. “Frequent exercise, adequate sleep, and a lot of hand washing,” suggested Pat Vasconcellos, a registered, private practice dietician in Boston.

To avoid unnecessary aches and pains, post-nasal drip, middle of the night chills and coughs, and expensive trips to the doctors office, whip up a combination of any one of the 14 foods listed below.

ZINC, SELENIUM, and PROTEIN rich foods

Pork, Lean Ground Beef, Muesli, and Cashews – each contains high levels of zinc, selenium, and protein that help your body fight off illness, keeping your immune system strong. Pork is also a good source of vitamin B and contains a little more fat than beef. Cashews are high in fat, mostly unsaturated, and should be eaten in moderation.


Oranges, Grapefruit Juice, Black Currants, Green Bell Peppers, Brussels Sprouts, and Potatoes – each contain high levels of vitamin C, essential to helping the body fight colds. Brussels sprouts and potatoes also contain sources of potassium, fiber, and folate that help boost anticarcinogenic glucosinates, which have important cancer-fighting properties. When potatoes are soaked in water, they tend to lose their vitamin C.

OTHER cold and flu fighting vitamins and minerals

· Garlic – packed with ALLICIN, a natural antibiotic that fights off cold viruses in addition to Hollywood vampires.

· Yogurt – research shows that one cup of yogurt a day may work to keep the gastrointestinal track healthier, which can help ward off colds and flus, according to Maloo. Recent studies have also found that regular consumption of dairy products may even help people to lose weight. Look for yogurt containing the active culture “L. ACIDOPHILUS,” which helps fight off yeast infections.

· Whole Wheat Pasta – contains a good amount of complex carbohydrates essential to both a healthy diet and boosting the immune system. Whole wheat pasta is also rich in NIACIN, FIBER, and IRON, strong defenses against the common cold and flu viruses.

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