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The temperatures are dropping and we now have at least 3 months of short and chilly days. It is also the time of year when colds and flu are thriving and our nutrition becomes even more important to ensure our immune system is at its best to fight off the Winter bugs. Not only does our nutrition ensure we are giving the body the right vitamins and minerals to help fend off illness, but the right foods and nutrients can also reduce the severity of cold and flu symptoms and as a result the length of time you are not at your best. So if you are keen to power through Winter and keep as healthy as possible, here are the simple steps to take.
Dehydration is surprisingly the most common reason bugs tend to stick around and continue to make you feel sick. Congestion, runny noses and a small intake of fluid can make headaches and fevers worse, prolonging the effects of a cold. Even if you do not feel like it, if you are suffering from any cold like symptoms you need to increase your intake of fluids. 100% fruit or vegetable juices, herbal teas or plain water are all good choices. If you are particularly keen, nutrient rich smoothies packed full of antioxidant rich fruits and vegetables and nutrient rich supplements such as chlorophyll, is another great way to give your body a daily vitamin hit.
Links have been drawn between a high Vitamin C intake and a reduction in cold-like symptoms for hundreds of years. Unfortunately there is only a small amount of scientific evidence that proves that a high dose of Vitamin C can reduce the length of a cold once it is present. Nevertheless, foods rich in Vitamin C including oranges, kiwi fruit, berries, tomatoes, red capsicums and spirulina are all antioxidant and vitamin rich foods which can only offer positive nutritional benefits in times of health or illness. Fresh fruits and vegetables also have high water contents and help to aid hydration.
Soup is another power-food routinely linked to helping sick people get better quickly. Soup has high water content but most importantly, chicken soup made using the actual chicken bones will contain some of the bone marrow. Bone marrow is thought to have a number of powerful immune stimulating properties which is where the link between chicken soup and health originated hundreds of years ago. Add plenty of vegetables in addition to the chicken stock made from bones and you will be on the right track. And, unfortunately no, the tinned varieties of soup do not count!
Finally there are a number of supplements including Echinacea, garlic, grape seed oil and a variety of herbs promoted as cures and preventives of colds and flu. While the jury is still out on many of these supplements, there are a number of powerful medicinal properties associated with fresh herbs in particular which makes them a great addition to your diet whether you are feeling under the weather or not. Fresh chilli, garlic, ginger and parsley are just a few of the ones that are easy to add to your favourites dishes and which just may help to ward off the Winter bugs.
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If you know your body is not at its best; or have high cholesterol or aching joints, it may be time to consider an anti-inflammatory diet. Click here to read more about it.
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