Everywhere you look it seems like there is a virus or germ-laden surface just waiting to infect you and your family. Schools are filled with bacteria hot-spots like door knobs, lockers, desk tops, computer keyboards, and pencil sharpeners. Time pressures placed on kids in some schools can barely leave time for them to wash their hands properly before eating lunch. Encouraging good hand-washing practices is a good first step towards limiting the number of germs that your family will pick up.
You can help your family fight back by providing foods that will boost their immune systems.
Omega-3 fatty acids are proven to boost our immune systems by energizing white blood cells (macrophages) which locate and engulf harmful bacteria. Lisa Mosing, MS, RD, FADA, Special to LifeScript, has written that we should regularly consume these omega-3 fatty acids in fish like salmon and sardines. They are also found in canola oil, walnuts, and flaxseeds. Flaxseed can be easily added to foods. Add some milled flaxseed to breads, muffins, cakes, brownies or cookies when you bake them. You can also stir some into oatmeal, or add some to meat loaf or sloppy joes. Milled flaxseed is a bit like wheat germ in appearance, and if you keep it handy in your kitchen you will find that you will remember to use it when you cook. It’s a great way to boost the nutritional value of your home-baked foods.
Olive oil and wheat germ contain monounsaturated fats, and these also protect us in the same way as omega-3’s do. Research has indicated that low-fat diets can weaken your immune system and can worsen depression. Your brain and nervous system need healthy fats to function properly.
Zinc is a very important trace mineral that is found in meats, and it works with the protein in meat to make your immune system stronger. White blood cells require zinc in order to function properly. Vegetarians can get zinc from tofu, whole grains, and cereals that have been fortified.
And here are some final points to remember to help you ward off colds. Taking a daily vitamin and mineral supplement is another way to ensure that you are getting nutrients you need. This is especially true in the winter months, when fresh produce must be shipped distances and vitamin content is easily lost.
Exercise is especially important during the winter months when inclement weather can make it difficult to get outdoors.
And be sure to get enough sleep. The restorative power of sleep is essential to keeping your immune system at peak performance.