Got the Flu? Eat Real Food
This year’s flu season is the worst in about 10 years, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CD).
Every US state, sans Hawaii, is experiencing widespread influenza outbreaks and one in 15 doctor visits last week were for flu symptoms.
Hospitals, medical centers, and urgent-care facilities across the country are stretched thin because of the influx of flu patients, health officials report. Many are asking staff to work overtime, set up triage tents, restrict friends and family visits and canceling elective surgeries.
“We are pretty much at capacity, and the volume is certainly different from previous flu seasons,” Dr. Alfred Tallia, professor and chair of family medicine at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center in New Brunswick, New Jersey, said. “I’ve been in practice for 30 years, and it’s been a good 15 or 20 years since I’ve seen a flu-related illness scenario like we’ve had this year.”
Even in a typical year, up to 20% of American are felled by the flu, which kills tens of thousands each Winter, and the average adult suffers 3 colds.
While CDC experts say it is not too late for a flu shot to protect yourself, holistic medicine specialists say you may be able to find relief from winter viruses, or even prevent them by turning to immune-boosting foods in your refrigerator and kitchen cabinets.
At the same time, it’s worth taking a hard look at your diet to see what you may be eating that might actually be increasing your vulnerability to seasonal ailments.
“It is more important to avoid immune-suppressing foods; pork, beef, dairy, and starches: wheat, corn, rice, potatoes,” Stanford Owen, certified by the American Board Of Internal Medicine said.
“The combination of animal fat plus starch produces toxic cytokine hormones [over 50 identified to date] by the abdominal fat cell, gut, and liver that impair immunity. I label these ‘Red’ foods.”
Dr. Owen adds that simple sugar is toxic to immunity and suggests avoiding soda, juice, milk, and sweet tea.
“It’s the sugar load that’s toxic. Fiber in fruit and vegetables not only ‘hold’ the sugar to be released slowly, the fiber is digested by [good] bacteria in the gut to form many products that can boost immunity,” Dr. Owen adds.
He says “juiced” products break down fruit and vegetable fiber and release the sugar which isn’t as healthful as an option.
Dr. Owen says he personally takes a multivitamin, methyl folate and vitamin D daily to ensure his overall health.
In addition, here are 7 foods, herbs, and supplements that can boost your immunity this cold and flu season, as follows:
Garlic: Thanks to its major active component allicin, garlic has both antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. Researchers have found that people taking garlic supplements have experienced fewer severe colds than those taking a placebo. Although a garlic supplement is beneficial, an actual garlic clove is even better because the active components are more bioavailable.
Sweet potato: These tubers are a great source of beta-carotene, a form of vitamin A, which plays a key role in your overall health. Your body needs vitamin A in order to fight off infections.
Cayenne pepper: Capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, thins the mucus in your nasal passages so you’re less congested. You can try the spice in soup or sprinkled on top of a main dish.
Turmeric: This spice, used for centuries in Indian cuisine and curry dishes, is known for its natural anti-inflammatory properties. It is high in antioxidants and may relieve the body of toxins. A study published in the Italian Journal of Biochemistry found that turmeric aids in the production of bilirubin, which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity.
Dark leafy greens: Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, arugula, and other greens are great sources of vitamin C and deliver a cold-fighting punch. Some research suggests increased vitamin C intake can reduce the duration of a cold. Try sautéing the greens with other healthy spices and foods like turmeric and garlic. A rule of thumb: the darker the green the higher the nutrient content.
Wild Caught Salmon: Vitamin D is essential when it comes to fighting off colds and flu. Foods rich in vitamin D, like wild salmon, are great cold fighters. Research shows that those with adequate levels of vitamin D experience fewer respiratory tract infections than those who are deficient in the vitamin.
Chicken soup: Turns out chicken soup really is nature’s penicillin. This age-old cold remedy can aid in recovery by soothing your throat and keeping you hydrated. Dr. Owen says hot soup, like chicken noodle, can loosen mucus that’s causing congestion. When you cook chicken it releases the amino acid cysteine, which has been shown to positively impact lung function.
So, as always, eat Real food.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively