Say goodbye to the dog days of summer, those glorious molasses-paced days and sultry nights. Winter is still months away—and already my nose feels stuffed up in anticipation. But saying hello to hunkering down doesn’t mean saying yes to sniffles and sickness. There’s a lot you can do to be proactive about your health, from smart lifestyle choices, such as exercise and adequate sleep, to eating right and drinking plenty of fluids. Here are six of the best ways to fend off colds and stay vibrant.
1. Focus on fats
Monosaturated fats, specifically omega-3 fatty acids, may help your immune system by supporting the healthy functioning of immune cells. A recent study found that consumption of EPA-rich fish enhanced the function of immune B cells.*
2. Leafy greens
According to recent research out of the Barbraham Institute, an independently operated biomedical science center closely aligned with Cambridge University in England, green vegetables may be the closest thing to a magic immune-defense bullet. In addition to being a well-known source of vitamins, minerals and essential nutrients, plus soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, green vegetables of all types are also a key source of specialized chemicals that trigger a body-wide immune response. Not only only do compounds in greens appear destroy infectious material; they also hold DNA together and make our cells less vulnerable to attack.*
3. Oats for immunity
The fight for immunity can be brutal—that’s why we all harbor an inner killer. Called macrophage and produced deep in your bone marrow, it's comprised of large, specialized cells that recognize, engulf and destroy infectious cells. Picture macrophage roaming your body, picking fights with bacteria, viruses or any other intruders. It’s a good thing. How do you fortify macrophage antiviral resistance? These killer cells are activated by beta-glucans, found in soluble fiber. One of the best sources for beta-glucans is oats. Steel-cut oats, such as Irish Oatmeal, have double the amount of beta-glucan than in the rolled, quick-cooking kind.
With the popularity of the Paleo diet, protein is trending right now. Protein does have the unique ability to satisfy hunger cravings and thus support healthy weight. But one of its most critical jobs is supporting your immune system. One recent study found that mice with a protein deficient diet had a reduction in both the numbers and function of T cells and macrophages as well as the production of immunoglobulin A (IgA) antibody.
5. Brazil nuts
High in selenium—a mineral that supports the fighting power of white blood cells in the body—Brazil nuts are a key part of your immunity-busting toolkit. Packed full of iron, antioxidant vitamin E, copper, magnesium, manganese, potassium and calcium, just a few a day is enough to help support healthy immune system function.*
A slew of recent studies show that people who don't get enough sleep are more likely to get sick after being exposed to a common cold virus. And if you do succumb to sickness, lack of sleep can also affect how fast you recover. The theory is infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don't get enough sleep.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.