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Cold and Flu Prevention

Despite what your mother may have told you, you won’t catch a cold from going outside without your coat on. In fact you are more likely to catch a cold from staying indoors. Colds are spread through direct contact from one infected person to another, air-born germs from a sneeze or cough and/or cross contamination from dirty door handles for example.

Tips for cold and flu prevention:

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water. Particularly before you eat!

Clean with a disinfectant. Wipe door handles, faucets, desks and high traffic surfaces.

Get enough rest.

Keep Fit. Active people get fewer colds each year than inactive people.

Eat a healthy diet. Eating enough food for energy as well as getting key nutrients that strengthen the immune system such as Vitamin C, A, Zinc, Iron and protein can help boost immunity.

ASIDE: While a vitamin C supplement won’t cure or prevent the common cold, some studies have found that high doses of Vitamin C (1-2g spread throughout the day) may help reduce the severity of symptoms and shorten the duration of the common cold.

Foods to eat to boost Immunity:

Oranges: High in vitamin C, as well as potassium, magnesium, folate, B6, antioxidants and flavonoids. Other sources of Vitamin C: blueberries, strawberries, kiwis, papayas, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, peppers and tomatoes as well and 100% pure fruit juices from these fruit.

Action Step: Reach for a Japanese mandarin orange for your mid-morning snack

Carrots and broccoli: Contain Vitamin A which is known to stimulate the activity of the immune system. Other sources of Vitamin A: spinach, sweet potato, yams, kale, turnip and beet greens, Swiss chard, bell peppers.

Action Step: roast a pan of root vegetables in olive oil, rosemary and a touch of sea salt for dinner

Wheat Germ: Contains zinc which is integral in our immune health. Other sources of zinc: oysters, seafood, red meat, poultry, yogurt, oat bran, sesame and pumpkin seeds, almonds and enriched breakfast cereals.

Action Step: Add ¼ cup wheat germ to your favourite muffin or pancake recipe.

Probiotic yogurt: Probiotics help maintain and restore our body’s natural bacterial flora, which act as a primary line of defence against viruses. Other sources of probiotics: probiotic milks, probiotic cheese, kefir, Bio K and supplements.

Action Step: Add a spoonful of probiotic yogurt to fruit salad for a delicious snack or dessert.

Garlic: contains S-allyl cysteine, a compound known to enhance the immune system. Other Sources Include: shallots, onions, garlic extracts.

Action Step: Crush fresh garlic into a homemade salad dressing or blend it with chickpeas to make hummus.

Chicken: contains the amino acid cysteine and other amino acids essential for building components of the immune system. It also contains iron and zinc known to help boost immunity.  Other sources of amino acids, zinc and iron: meat, fish, legumes, tofu, nuts and seeds.

Action Step: Roast a whole chicken for dinner one night (be sure to toss the skin out) and then use the carcass to make a delicious chicken noodle soup sure to soothe the soul.

Vitamin D Supplements (600 IU-1000 IU): Current research is looking at Vitamin D’s role in increasing the body’s ability to produce proteins that destroy viruses such as the H1N1. In the winter it is difficult to get enough vitamin D as it is activated in the skin by the sun. Therefore supplements are often recommended. Health Canada recommends 600 IU per day. Other sources of Vitamin D include milk, some yogurts, fortified soy milk, almond milk, rice milk and orange juice, fatty fish like salmon, margarine and egg yolk.

Action Step: have a glass of warm milk before bed. It may help get that much needed beauty sleep.

Echinacea and Ginseng: may also play a role in boosting the immune response and help shorten the duration and lessen the severity of the cold symptoms.

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