Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to Avoid the Crud

Ahh, ‘Tis that time of year again! It is time for the return of cold and flu season full of coughs, sniffles, and used tissues strewn everywhere!  With all the big swings in temperature that we have had recently, yours truly had the pleasure of being struck by what I affectionately call the crud. Although, after watching morning television from my couch, I was soon questioning if I had perhaps caught Ebola.

Just to be on the safe side, I emailed by boss and told him that I suspected that I had Ebola and would be out sick for the day in self-quarantine.

With all of this lovely crud going around, I figure what better time than the present to talk about nutrition and your immune system; thus I give you today’s blog: How to Avoid the Crud.

What is your immune system?
Just in case there are some of you out there that are in fact living under a rock, yet have heard by word of mouth how good this blog is, your immune system helps your body fight off illness such as the common cold and the not so common, yet heavily exaggerated Ebola.  

What foods are good for my immune system?
Sometimes when I am writing these blogs, I feel like I am kicking a dead horse.  Alas, I will go on. The vitamins and minerals that help support your immune system are largely found in fruits and vegetables. No big surprise there right?  The vitamins and minerals most closely associated with immunity include: vitamin C, zinc, and magnesium. Vitamin C is the most well known one from the above list, which may not be as well deserved as we would like to think, so let’s take a closer look.

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin, meaning that they it is easily absorbed in water. Vitamin C is not stored in the body, so you need a constant supply of it in your diet. Some of the best food sources of vitamin C include: citrus, strawberries, cauliflower, Brussels’ sprouts, pineapple, mango, bell peppers, kiwi, broccoli, and every hipsters favorite, kale.

What about all of those vitamin C supplements?
Since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin and is not stored in the body, excess leaves your body via urine. So unless you pride yourself on having expensive urine, you are not doing yourself any good.

Does vitamin C help with colds?
Research shows that taking vitamin C supplements after getting a cold does not really help; at that point it is too late. Crawling out of bed when the crud has you all the way to the fridge to get the OJ to help you feel better is not going to help.

However, research has shown that people who take a vitamin C supplement regularly might have slightly shorter colds or milder symptoms. Emphasis on might.

What about chicken noodle soup?
So chicken noodle soup isn’t a vitamin or mineral, but whose mother or grandmother hasn’t force-fed you chicken noodle when you were sick as a child? Mom or grandma was actually on to something with this one. Eating chicken noodle soup to help fight off illness actually has some research to support it beyond just being a placebo effect. Researchers don’t really know what component of chicken noodle soup to credit, but eating some of it helps with cold symptoms. So next time the crud has a hold of you and you just cannot bear to crawl out of bed to make some, try sweet-talking your roommate into making you some. Be sure to play up how miserable you feel and maybe even channel your inner drama queen and cry a little bit.

What about other foods?
Some studies have suggested that drinking green tea helps prevent and treat cold symptoms. Regardless if it is true or not, the hot water helps break up the crud stuck in your throat. Yogurt is another food of interest due to the probiotics it naturally contains. Probiotics help to keep your digestive system healthy and therefore, the rest of your body.

Breaking it down
Eating a diet rich in vitamin C (read: fruits and vegetables) year round is good for not only for your immune system, but your overall. Your best bet to avoid the crud this season is to wash your hands regularly, avoid those friends and family members who are hacking up their lungs, and grab some chicken noodle soup if you start to feel a cold coming on. Oh and of course, load up on fruits and vegetables. Until next time!

Keep it Fresh,
Keep it Green,


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