Hello my dear readers,
Like it or not, unfortunately this is the flu season.
With so many viruses flying among us, let’s see what we can do to prevent this nasty influenza virus to attack our daily life.
Nutrition plays a fundamental role in preventing the flu: here are the foods to consume if you do not want to end up in bed with a cold or a flu.
We are more predisposed in getting the flu in the cold season but believe me that I’m living in Singapore, in a country that’s always summer and the flu still arrives.
And in order not to be caught unprepared, prevention strategies must be put in place. To avoid finding yourself in bed with fever, cold, headache, cough and sore throat, you need to play in advance, but how? The old grandmother’s advice to wear the wool sweater can work but nutrition also does its part.
A varied, balanced and seasonal diet, rich in fruit and vegetables is a ‘must’ in the prevention of flu syndrome.
The people at risk, such as the elderly and children or those who have chronic diseases, are advised to get the vaccine, paying attention to temperature changes, avoiding contact contamination as much as possible and crowded public places to keep away from sneezing and coughing attacks, as well as pursuing careful hygiene, especially of our hands, are the basic rules for putting an extra barrier between us and the virus.
However, these attentions are joined by an important effect played by the diet that can make the difference, before and during, on the incidence, impact and course of flu and para-flu forms.
How to prevent influenza at the table
The first step is having a varied and balanced diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, useful to increase the body’s defences, enhanced by vitamins and minerals.
Here are the foods that, you should not miss them from your diet:
At least two, three portions a day. Especially cauliflowers, cabbage, broccoli and savoy cabbage which are rich, in addition to vitamin C, in active ingredients with an anti-inflammatory and antioxidant action.
They can be eaten raw, steamed or pan-fried with garlic and chilli pepper, but avoid cooking them for a long time because they would lose their nutrients.
In the shopping list, among the vegetables against the cold and the flu, radishes, radicchio, celery, leeks, pumpkins, carrots, tomatoes but above all peppers must not be missed.
The peppers in fact contain a lot of vitamin C and A which serves to strengthen the cells of the mucous membranes, real barriers against bacteria.
Then there is the yellow, red and green not to forget, that means carrots, squash, spinach, red beets, which contain carotenoids, with a protective function on the thymus, the gland involved in the immune defense, and which also protects against smog.
In times of fatigue, eating lettuce is a good solution because it contains vitamins, especially A and C, and mineral salts, which the body uses as tonic.
Garlic and onion
These ‘foods’, used in the preparation and seasoning of foods, not only provide the body with vitamins and minerals, but also have antiseptic properties, they fluidify and help eliminate phlegm.
Onion is a natural ally, although not loved by everyone, to prevent flu: it is rich in flavonoids that counteract the action of bacteria. It contains acetylsalicylic acid, one of the active ingredients of aspirin.
Most of the spicy aromas have a vasodilating action which favours sweating and the consequent stabilization of body temperature.
In particular curry, paprika and chili pepper are natural sources of acetylsalicylic acid, an important anti-inflammatory active ingredient.
Rosemary, sage, thyme, marjoram, bay leaf, ginger and cinnamon are warming, digestive, invigorating. They are particularly indicated in case of tiredness or in a slightly low tone.
Are recommended in at least 3 servings per day.
The one that can most help to prevent the flu is the orange. Together with the other citrus fruits like tangerines, grapefruits, lemon, lime, mandarin, pomelo, it abounds in vitamin C: small quantities, about 60 milligrams per day, are sufficient to increase the immune system and enhance the defenses against colds, coughs and sore throat, and perform an antioxidant action.
In the morning, for breakfast, it is golden to drink a fresh squeeze orange juice from 2-3 oranges, at room temperature.
In addition to citrus fruits, kiwis are also good, an excellent source of vitamin C, cooked apples seasoned with cinnamon or lemon zest, and pears.
Currants and grapes are also useful, which provides energy and is useful in times when the body is weakened and can be more easily prey to viruses and bacteria.
To change the seasoning of your veggies you can use lemon instead of or in addition to vinegar. It also facilitates the absorption of iron present in other foods, which in turn enhances the natural defenses against colds, sore throats and coughs.
Cereals are essential for the supply of complex carbohydrates that ensure maximum efficiency for the metabolism. In the cold season it is better to prefer millet, buckwheat and rice which improve the functionality of the kidneys, the heart and the nervous system.
They provide a mix of mineral salts, essential fatty acids, vitamins and fiber.
They are a concentrate of vegetable and mineral proteins and a good meat substitute. They should be consumed at least 2-3 times a week with a preference for chickpeas, lentils and beans, cooked in water and bay leaf, after a 12-hour soak. Soy and derivatives should not be abused if you suffer from cold.
Walnuts, hazelnuts, pumpkin seeds, flax, sunflower and wheat (to be enjoyed also with yogurt) provide the body with vitamin E and some anti-stress minerals, such as zinc and magnesium.
In addition, thanks to omega-3 fatty acids, they prevent joint inflammation and pain. They are the ideal snack, especially when doing sports, or are indicated to make a vegetable or soup side dish more energetic. They are excellent, together with cereals, in the morning milk or sprinkled on a slice of bread and honey.
Fish, crustaceans and molluscs
In addition to essential fatty acids, which are pain relievers, they provide high biological value proteins and iron, such as meat. They are also precursors of enzymes and hormones useful to combat stress related to exposure to cold.
They are privileged sources of zinc and copper, two minerals implicated in the immune response. It is good to consume them at least 2-3 times a week, simply cooked and/or seasoned with oil and lemon juice.
A toast with salmon is also excellent, to recharge the body with vitamin D and if you prefer dark bread and cheese, you can also ensure a load of proteins that help the immune system.
It is rich in protein, iron, copper and zinc. Small portions cooked in steam, in foil or grilled, alternating between beef, chicken and turkey are recommended.
Like all food of animal origin, it contains vitamin B12, fundamental for the synthesis of red blood cells.
Those to be preferred are of vegetable origin such as extra virgin olive oil, sunflower oil (cold pressed) and occasionally even small quantities of butter are allowed.
In addition to containing valuable fatty acids and vitamins A and E, they are absorbed and used slowly: a natural aid to regulate body temperature and endure long-lasting efforts in the cold. They also have a rebalancing effect on mood.
During the flu it is essential to integrate liquids. It is necessary to drink a lot of water and healthy drinks, such as the rosehip infusion, which contains vitamins, zinc, flavonoids and tannins, or lukewarm teas sweetened with honey, especially those based on echinacea, which are immunostimulants, and those based on anise and cumin, which are carminative.
Green tea which is rich in antioxidants is also good on cold days or when you are particularly tired.
And to not forget the old grandmother’s remedy, which is a good broth. If it is warm enough, it creates vasodilation and is therefore beneficial for the irritated upper airways, creating a fluidizing effect on mucus and phlegm.
Last advice: try to fill up on vitamins and minerals and stay away from influenza!