Perhaps you heard it somewhere in the office, or along your commute, or maybe even in your own home—chances are, though, you’ve heard it by now—the telltale cough or sneeze that announces the start of cold and flu season.
You can get your shots and stock up on medicine, but according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, the secret to staying healthy isn’t relying on medical care. Instead, he points to the overwhelming evidence proving that proper diet and nutrition is the key to supercharging the immune system and protecting our bodies against disease. Dr. Fuhrman is a board-certified family physician who specializes in preventing and reversing disease through natural methods. In Super Immunity, he shares everything you need to know about how to turn your kitchen into your most powerful ally in fighting disease and infection.
You may be surprised by some of what he has to say about colds and the flu. Of course, the best way to fight a cold or flu is to prevent getting one in the first place, so be sure that you have a diet that’s rich in immune-boosting micronutrients, like those found in berries, seeds, garlic, onions, and cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, cabbage, and kale). In Super Immunity, you’ll find more than eighty-five delicious recipes, as well as a two-week daily menu planner. However, if you do happen to get a cold or a flu, here’s what you’ll want to know:
1) Antibiotics aren’t likely to help. Colds and flu are the result of viral invaders, not bacterial infections, and antibiotics don’t kill viruses. According to Fuhrman, “one of the major issues with colds and flu is not the illness itself but the myriad ways we try to treat it. Too often these so-called solutions tax our immune systems, prolonging the illness or turning colds and flu into something much worse.”
2) Eat less, and eat mostly vegetables. Bad news for those who swear by Mom’s chicken soup: Beyond emotional comfort, it’s not physically helping your body fight off illness. In fact, meat is actually harder for your body to digest than vegetables. Swap the chicken for a vegetable soup, and in general, keep your caloric intake low.
3) Avoid fever reducers. Believe it or not, a fever is actually a good sign—it means your immune system is working to fight an infection. Reducing fever is also reducing the strength of one of your body’s natural defense mechanisms. If you’re uncomfortable, and a fever is preventing you from getting sleep, opt for a small amount of ibuprofen taken with some food.
4) Ditch the cough suppressants. Don’t confuse the symptoms of an illness (like a fever, or a cough) with the actual illness itself. Symptoms mean that your immune system is attempting to reject an infection. Most cough suppressants don’t work, and it’s a good thing! Cough symptoms upwardly mobilize mucus, dead cells, and virus particles, and prevent mucus from settling down, plugging the airways, and causing worse illnesses to occur.
5) Opt for zinc instead of vitamin C. A healthy diet should be rich in vitamin C, so be sure to consume lots of raw fruits and vegetables year-round. Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to prove that vitamin C supplements are helpful in fighting illness once you’re already sick. Instead, analysis suggests that zinc not only helps prevent colds, but it can reduce the severity and length of a cold if it is taken once you’re already sick.
Be sure to check out Super Immunity for more information on the dos and don’ts of cold and flu season, as well as how you can use nutrition to boost your body’s defenses all year round to live a longer, stronger, and disease-free life.
Note: This article is not intended to replace medical advice and should be used to supplement rather than replace regular care by your doctor. It is recommended that you seek your physician’s advice before embarking on any medical program or treatment.