Cooler temps mean it’s the beginning of the awful cold and flu season. This can mean missed workouts, doctor’s visits and many trips to the pharmacy. Chronic Coughs can take a toll on training and fitness programs. You can help keep the bad bugs away by increasing your intake of immune-boosting foods.
Vitamin C, beta-carotene, probiotics and zinc are known soldiers against colds and flu. Supplements are great as extra reinforcements but for day to day maintenance try to get this nutrients through your diet by eating plenty of these healthy foods.
1) Grass-fed Beef (zinc): Grass-fed cows yield beef with more immune enhancing CLA, beta-carotene, vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids than grain-fed animals. Beef also ups your intake of zinc which aids in the production of white blood cells that help fight infection.
2) Red Bell Peppers (vitamin C): Red bell peppers actually contain about double the vitamin C of oranges and bring a hearty dose of immune-supportive beta-carotene and lycopene to the table. Vitamin C promotes healthy skin (which is part of your body’s first line or defense), increases white blood cell and antibody production and may help decrease the length and severity of cold symptoms.
3) Yogurt/Kefir (probiotics): Yogurt and kefir contain probiotics (healthy bacteria) that are like your own personal army patrolling your GI tract. You need these good bacteria in your system so the bad bacteria doesn’t have a chance to thrive. About 70 to 80% of your immune system is based in your tummy so keeping a large number of friendly bacteria is so important for ideal immune function.
4) Sweet Potatoes, Pumpkin, Squash, Carrots (beta-carotene): Cooler weather means beta-carotene rich foods are in season. So, get in the kitchen and start whipping up some autumn dishes. Your body also converts beta-carotene into vitamin A, another strong immune enhancer. Too much vitamin A can be toxic so getting in your foods is safer than in a supplement.