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chicken noodle soup
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breana lai headshot thumbBreana Lai.
Does it seem like people all around you are falling ill, or have you fallen victim to this season’s sickness? Though we had a spurt of warm weather this past weekend, the cooler weather also brings more disease, as we tend to shut ourselves into our warm homes and buildings. And though watching a Downton Abbey marathon and eating my mom’s chicken soup sounds like an amazing way to spend a day, I hate being sick and unproductive. How can we beat the sickness, or better yet, never get sick? While there is no magic anti-sick remedy, we can keep our bodies as healthy as possible through eating well, exercising and reducing our stress.
I cannot help with the stress, but I can help with eating well. Eating certain foods provides our bodies with not only the nutrients to prevent us from getting sick, but also those necessary to fight any illness we might acquire. Add these foods to your daily diet and you just might eat yourself to health.
Foods that boost your immunity:
- Water: Liquids are incredibly important for staying hydrated. Stick with pure water or unsweetened hot or cold tea. Unless recommended by a doctor or if you are unable to eat solid food, sugar-sweetened beverages, such as Pedialyte and Gatorade, are not necessary.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is high in probiotics, those “good bacteria” which populate your gut and keep your intestines healthy (this is really important!). While you can take probiotics in a pill form, studies show that eating yogurt is just as effective and less expensive. Opt for plain or low-sugar regular or greek yogurt, such as Fage 0% with honey.
- Garlic: Along with reducing your chance of getting a cold, garlic lovers have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer. Garlic is easy to add to pastas, vegetables…actually, any dish!
- Fish and Shellfish: Fatty-fish, such as salmon, mackerel and sardines, are fantastic sources of omega 3 fatty acids. Omega 3s reduce inflammation and may have cardiovascular benefits. Shellfish, such as clams and oysters, are high in selenium, which helps produce white blood cells charged with fighting infection.
- Mushrooms: Like shellfish, mushrooms also increase the production of white blood cells. Add mushrooms to your pizza, pasta and stir-fries, or as a side dish on their own.
- Fruits and Vegetables: Yes, fruits and veggies pop up time and time again for their healthy qualities. Along with being an important source of fiber, fruits and veggies are high in antioxidants. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals, or the molecules charged with reeking havoc on our bodies. Pick orange, red and green fruits and veggies (sweet potatoes, green peppers, spinach, mangoes, tomatoes) and citrus (oranges, lemons, limes) to get your beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, selenium and vitamins A, C, and E.
- Chicken Soup: Also known as Jewish penicillin in my house, chicken soup provides liquid, carbohydrates, vegetables, protein and salt…all necessary during sickness. Use whole-wheat noodles and bump up the vegetables to make this the perfect meal.
What you put into your body matters. Skipping meals, eating packaged and processed foods and consuming high levels of caffeine, sugar and alcohol doesn’t help. Steer clear…and wash your hands!