The flu season, here in the United States, often begins at the end of October and runs through April.
I remember when I was in my 2nd year of teaching full time, back when I was single, I had the flu and was out of my classroom for an entire week! Ugh...I also had the flu again when my oldest (age 20) was 11...I ended up having it for a week and had to miss her first, and only, horse show! I haven't had the flu since, although I usually have at least one head-cold sometime between November and March. It comes with working so closely with little children.
However, we CAN take precautions against these air-borne germs and fight them with food!!
(the following information is taken from the October 2013 issue of AARP Bulletin, pg 22)
|photo courtesy of creattica website|
- TEA! Green, oolong, and black teas all have a compound that occurs naturally and reduces the risk of flu. It is quercetin (an antioxidant), and L-theanine (amino acid). These are only found in teas. Decaf tea also contains the amino acid, but herbal teas do not. So, drink a hot, steaming cup of tea before bed (or in the morning if you aren't a coffee person) and help ward off the flu!
|photo courtesy of choicelunch website|
- TOMATOES! They are rich in Vitamin C so they help fight colds and flu because they boost the body's natural defense system. They do this the same way citrus fruits do (oranges, grapefruits). If fresh tomatoes are difficult to obtain during the winter months(like here in the northeast), drink a cup of tomato juice at lunch or have tomato-based sauce on some pasta for dinner.
|photo courtesy of end all disease website|
- CARROTS! These are rich in beta-carotene which your body needs to keep off respiratory infections. If you aren't a fan of carrots, or like me, don't want to eat baby carrots everyday with lunch, just eat dark green veggies, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and winter squash. Dark green and orange....simple!!
|photo courtesy of dining chicago site|
- BLACK-EYED PEAS! These kinds of legumes are very rich in zinc which is a trace mineral that our immune systems need to stay working well. Are you like me, and don't really care for these? Then add pinto beans to soups or chili, snack on peanuts and/or roasted pumpkin seeds and add wheat germ to your yogurt, ice cream, or morning oatmeal. You can also add wheat germ to cookie dough or brownies.
|photo courtesy of agricultural marketing site|
- MUSHROOMS! These are known to heighten the body's resistance to viral infections. They increase the activity of natural killer cells which is a major part of the immune system. They are also very rich in selenium which, if low, increases your risk of developing a more severe flu. You can add mushrooms to sauce, omelettes, salads.
|photo courtesy of todayifoundout website|
- ALMONDS! These are a trendy snack that many people throw in their lunch bag for work, or snack on after school. They are a rich source of an important antioxidant (Vitamin E). Vitamin E helps keep away viral infections. To maximize the absorption of the vitamin, go for chopped almonds, almond butter or almond oil. Add them to salads, yogurt, oatmeal, pasta and veggie dishes or just snack on them! Please note: check with your pediatrician before giving nuts to children under the age of 5.
|photo courtesy of the kitchen website|
- YOGURT! We all probably know that probiotics are the good bacteria found in yogurt and other fermented foods. They strengthen the immune system. But many people don't care for yogurt (I like the brand in the photo....I especially like the coffee flavored and the raspberry) so you can eat cottage cheese, kimchi or sauerkraut. If you do eat yogurt, add some wheat germ (see above) to get the added benefits!!
So...stock up on some of these flu fighting foods...and eat up!!