By: Alonso Chavarriaga
Dr. Stoler, who hosted the second season of TLC’s groundbreaking series, Honey, We’re Killing the Kids and serves on many local, state and national committees related to health and wellness, strongly believes that the foods you eat can directly contribute to your immune system’s strength.
According to Dr. Stoler, there are several things you can do nutritionally to build up your immune system and stave off sickness:
Eat a well-balanced diet. Having a little protein with every meal helps boost immunity. Also, eat colorful fruits and vegetables to gain essential vitamins and minerals.
Including more foods with probiotics (like yogurt) will also help establish beneficial bacteria, or micro flora, in your small intestine that serves as the first line of defense against germs. Dr. Stoler believes taking probiotics should be something you do year-round, not just during cold and flu season, in order to maintain optimal gastrointestinal health.
Think vitamin C. Have more citrus fruits in your diet, such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, and grapefruits. These fruits are wonderful because they have lots of fluids and are very hydrating. At the same time, they are packed full of vitamin C, which is a
Use elderberry syrup. Dr. Stoler loves using elderberry syrup called Sambucol, which helps enhance the immune system. It’s not cough medicine, just elderberry concentrated. Taking it with water or adding extra flavor by mixing it with club soda will make it a refreshing drink that’s beneficial to you.
Take more zinc. “Getting more of the mineral zinc is extremely important,” says Dr. Stoler. Oysters both raw and cooked can be a great source of zinc, as can multivitamins and specific supplements.
Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Eating these fatty acids in moderation can boost the immune system. Coldwater fish such as salmon are a great source of Omega-3s. If you don’t find yourself cooking fish often, opt for fish oil supplements instead.
If you are already feeling sick, Dr. Stoler recommends having chicken soup, also known as “Jewish penicillin,” or miso soup. When making soup, it’s a good idea to freeze leftovers in case you are too weak to make it later on. Many stores will also have powdered miso soup that only requires you to add water.
Finally, if you are suffering from stuffiness or have a runny nose, making sure you are taking adequate hydration. You can choose to have hot drinks like Theraflu and green tea, or cold drinks like a healthy smoothie packed with vitamins; the choice is entirely up to you, depending on which one you think will have a more soothing effect.
Getting sick every winter does not have to be an unavoidable curse; with the right nutrition and yearlong habits, you’ll have the power to boost your body’s immune system and fight off colds.