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Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Flu Fighters -- Stock Up On These Immunity-boosting Foods

 With all of the talk of infectious diseases and the fear and hysteria surrounding them. You may not be aware that you have the ammunition to fight back and essentially never get sick if you keep your body rich with antioxidants and helped with exercise, rest, and hydration.  And yes, that includes fighting the Ebola Virus
Flu Fighters -- Stock Up On These Immunity-boosting Foods
The history of cold and flu containment reads like a catalog of neuroses, from the once-popular practice of avoiding cold weather (or at least wearing a hat) to our current compulsion to wash our hands and wipe our phones in avoidance of microbial mingling. Now the latest research tells us to eat functional foods to combat infection. At least this new trend requires somewhat less clinical behavior.
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The phrase "functional" is shorthand for the ancient belief that eating the right foods not only prevents illness  from cancer and hypertension to colds and flu  but may even help cure it. "Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food," said Hippocrates. Science is only now playing catch-up. Recently, a landmark study by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute suggested that food can be as effective as drugs by showing that a lowfat diet containing lots of fruits, vegetables and dairy products radically reduced blood pressure.
"Nature constructed food to fight disease in a way that we can't replicate," says Joseph V. Formica, Ph.D., professor of microbiology at Virginia Commonwealth University's School of Medicine. Still, scientists can isolate the chemical makeup of fruits, vegetables, fish, grains and other foods that affect our cells , and our health. Stock up on the following so you don't have to hoard Kleenex.
Flavonoids: These substances are a type of PHYTOCHEMICAL, natural compounds that protect plants against disease and have been found to prevent cancer and heart disease in humans. Recent lab tests here and in France have shown that flavonoids can actually stop viruses from reproducing. "Flavonoids seem to bind to the outside protective coat of viruses and then damage their DNA," explains Formica. Best sources: red wine and tea, as well as raw or cooked onions, kale, broccoli, tomatoes and citrus fruits.
Protein: "Protein is especially important for powering the immune system," says Frances Tyus, R.D., a nutritional consultant at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation. Immune-system worker bees, like antibodies and T cells, are actually made of protein, and you need a constant supply for reinforcement. To make sure your body is well defended, especially when you're about to get sick, aim for 50 to 75 grams a day; that's about two servings of meat, poultry or fish, plus a serving of beans and two glasses of milk.
Minerals: Your body can't do much with protein unless it has three minerals (magnesium, iron and zinc) and three B vitamins (B6, thiamine and riboflavin) to help transform it into muscle and other tissue. This seems like a lot to remember, but you can get most of these nutrients in one shot from sources like fish, lentils, whole grains, nuts, seeds and green leafy vegetables.
Vitamin A: Mucous membranes that line the eyes, nose, lungs and stomach are your immune system's first line of defense against invading cold and flu viruses. Vitamin A helps keep these membranes healthy. Although fatty foods like butter, milk and eggs are packed with the vitamin, many fruits and vegetables contain compounds that the body converts to vitamin A as it needs it. Go for orange, red and dark green hues like sweet potatoes, papaya, spinach, carrots, squash and cantaloupe.
Vitamin C: This vitamin is needed to produce a healthy stock of infection-gobbling white blood cells. "It's easy to get the amount you need from food," says Tyus. In addition to drinking orange juice, eat raw tomatoes, kiwis, papaya, strawberries, spinach, sweet potatoes and red peppers.
Not that you should stop washing your hands to kill microbes or brave the cold with a naked head. The first is still good science, and the second just makes sense.
-Adapted from Women's Sports & Fitness, 

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