Sunday, March 6, 2011

Power Foods that Fight the Flu!


It takes more then an apple a day to keep the docotor away!  By eating some surprising nutrients it will keep your body on guard.  You can ensure your body and immunity run smoothly by rounding out your plate with more veggies, and drink 8-10 glasses of water a day!  The following ingredients can add an extra FLU fighting punch to your winter meal plan. 

1. Yogurt

Probiotics, or the "live active cultures" found in yogurt, are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. Although they're available in supplement form, a study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7-ounce dose of yogurt was just as effective in boosting immunity as popping pills. In an 80-day Swedish study of 181 factory employees, those who drank a daily supplement of Lactobacillus reuteri--a specific probiotic that appears to stimulate white blood cells--took 33% fewer sick days than those given a placebo. Any yogurt with a Live and Active Cultures seal contains some beneficial bugs, but Stonyfield Farm is the only US brand that contains this specific strain.

Your optimal dose: Two 6-ounce servings a day.

2. Oats and Barley

These grains contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber with antimicrobial and antioxidant capabilities more potent than echinacea, reports a Norwegian study. When animals eat this compound, they're less likely to contract influenza, herpes, even anthrax; in humans, it boosts immunity, speeds wound healing, and may help antibiotics work better.

Your optimal dose: At least one in your three daily servings of whole grains.

3. Garlic

This potent onion relative contains the active ingredient allicin, which fights infection and bacteria. British researchers gave 146 people either a placebo or a garlic extract for 12 weeks; the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Other studies suggest that garlic lovers who chow more than six cloves a week have a 30% lower rate of colorectal cancer and a 50% lower rate of stomach cancer.

Your optimal dose: Two raw cloves a day and add crushed garlic to your cooking several times a week.

4. Fish

Selenium, plentiful in shellfish such as oysters, lobsters, crabs, and clams, helps white blood cells produce cytokines-proteins that help clear flu viruses out of the body. Salmon, mackerel, and herring are rich in omega-3 fats, which reduce inflammation, increasing airflow and protecting lungs from colds and respiratory infections.

Your optimal dose: Two servings a week (unless you're pregnant or planning to be).

5. Chicken Soup

When University of Nebraska researchers tested 13 brands, they found that all but one (chicken-flavored ramen noodles) blocked the migration of inflammatory white cells-an important finding, because cold symptoms are a response to the cells' accumulation in the bronchial tubes. The amino acid cysteine, released from chicken during cooking, chemically resembles the bronchitis drug acetylcysteine, which may explain the results. The soup's salty broth keeps mucus thin the same way cough medicines do. Added spices, such as garlic and onions, can increase soup's immune-boosting power.

Your optimal dose: Have a bowl when feeling crummy.

6. Tea

People who drank 5 cups a day of black tea for 2 weeks had 10 times more virus-fighting interferon in their blood than others who drank a placebo hot drink, in a Harvard study. The amino acid that's responsible for this immune boost, L-theanine, is abundant in both black and green tea--decaf versions have it, too.

Your optimal dose: Several cups daily. To get up to five times more antioxidants from your tea bags, bob them up and down while you brew.

7. Beef

Zinc deficiency is one of the most common nutritional shortfalls among American adults, especially for vegetarians and those who've cut back on beef, a prime source of this immunity-bolstering mineral. And that's unfortunate, because even mild zinc deficiency can increase your risk of infection. Zinc in your diet is very important for the development of white blood cells, the intrepid immune system cells that recognize and destroy invading bacteria, viruses, and assorted other bad guys, says William Boisvert, PhD, an expert in nutrition and immunity at The Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, CA.

Your optimal dose: A 3-oz serving of lean beef provides about 30 percent of the Daily Value (DV) for zinc. That's often enough to make the difference between deficient and sufficient. Not a beef person? Try zinc-rich oysters, fortified cereals, pork, poultry, yogurt, or milk.

8. Sweet Potatoes

You may not think of skin as part of your immune system. But this crucial organ, covering an impressive 16 square feet, serves as a first-line fortress against bacteria, viruses, and other undesirables. To stay strong and healthy, your skin needs vitamin A. "Vitamin A plays a major role in the production of connective tissue, a key component of skin," explains Prevention advisor David Katz, MD, director of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center in Derby, CT. One of the best ways to get vitamin A into your diet is from foods containing beta-carotene (like sweet potatoes), which your body turns into vitamin A.

Your optimal dose: A half-cup serving, which delivers only 170 calories but 40 percent of the DV of vitamin A as beta-carotene. They're so good, you might want to save them for dessert! Think orange when looking for other foods rich in beta-carotene: carrots, squash, canned pumpkin, and cantaloupe.

9. Mushrooms

For centuries, people around the world have turned to mushrooms for a healthy immune system. Contemporary researchers now know why. "Studies show that mushrooms increase the production and activity of white blood cells, making them more aggressive. This is a good thing when you have an infection," says Douglas Schar, DipPhyt, MCPP, MNIMH, director of the Institute of Herbal Medicine in Washington, DC.

Your optimal dose: Shiitake, maitake, and reishi mushrooms appear to pack the biggest immunity punch; experts recommend at least ¼ ounce to an ounce a few times a day for maximum immune benefits. Add a handful to pasta sauce, saute with a little oil and add to eggs, or heap triple-decker style on a frozen pizza.


  1. Boo to all the meat and dairy products :P

    I'm going to throw some contradictory info into the mix here if you don't mind.

    If you eat a whole foods, plant based diet you won't need the cultures in yogurt. Healthy baceteria will naturally thrive in the alkaline intestine. And beef, well, that's probably the main reason most people get sick. You can get zinc from plants and from a multi-vitamin. I'd go that route. Meat only offers us three nutrients, iron, zinc, and b12, and it's not worth loading up on to get them. Eating a lot of fruit and vegetables offer most of what we need. Sure we can still get sick but the illness won't last as long.

  2. Love you blog! I have arthritis, my hubby wants to maintain his weight and even lose a bit. Following your blog will be a a huge benefit for us!

  3. Justin you are correct but not everyone is a vegetarian. Some people like beef and in moderation its ok. Not saying eat everyday, but consume leaner cuts maybe once or twice a week (if you are a major beef person). I don't want to say you can't have certain foods but moderation is the key. It's a way of life, not a diet and to cut out something you love then well. it becomes a diet.. Never said load up on it, plus there are other options below it that are non beef.

    Yogurt is a favorite of mine and I for one won't give it up. Yes you can get the same benefits from whole foods but then again why should i cut out something I love if it as well benefits me? Moderation and the right choices are key not giving up foods we love but merely mixing the right choices together.

    Thanks for the comment always appreciated.

  4. @ Mari thank you and I hope this helps your hubby because it is helping me. I use to struggle just to get out of bed every morning, the pain was so bad, (my arthritis is in my spine). I was taking morphine for the spasms. Then I also gained extra weight because I couldnt move. So this was no longer acceptable I needed to find a better way and since I started this I have lost over 23 lbs and feeling better. I am no longer taking drugs but switched to vitamins and power foods. The swelling in my legs has also reduced tremendously now that I know certain foods I ate caused it to happen. So, it's a learning experience and If I can help someone else get relief It's well worth it... Thanks again look forward to more of yoru comments.. : )

  5. Great Post Lisa, Thanks for sharing.

  6. I needed this post 2 weeks ago. I thought I was doing good living on oyster crackers and water :)
    Another great post Lisa! Thank you!

  7. What a helpful post - am forwarding this to all in my family with similar probs - and they are plenty... THank you and loved it immensely here. Kriti -

  8. Agree with the more fruit idea. Have never had any strain of flu for past 27 years. But wife works in early childcare , comes home with everything going around. Only difference in our diet- I eat 2-3 apples a day. Research suggests the ethlene gas given off by ripening apples is a potent virucide.
    Even when swine flu knocked down my wife and daughter last winter, superappleman nursed them through.

  9. Awesome Jim !!!
    Absolutely Fruit is always a healthy choice. These 9 nutrients combined with fruit and vegetables add to the fighting power.

  10. Very nice post. I try to eat a good variety of healthy food but am always happy to be reminded the benefits of each. :)

  11. Ah .I never knew this one ..