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Food and Drink

Putting the shine to colds and flu



If it’s not holiday season that has you all wrapped up in preparations this time of year, then it’s cold and flu season. Given that both maladies are caused by viruses there isn’t much you can do in the way of treatment once your body is overtaken, other than suffocate your suffering under a warm blanket with drugs of choice.

We’ve all heard it for years, but it bears repeating that prevention is your best medicine, and this winter it seems to be more important than ever. Lots of people this season are reporting colds that seem to linger forever. For every day they rally and feel good, there’s payback time of a few more days they feel crappy again. One virus is packing a double wallop at the same time by delivering laryngitis, which is also caused by a virus.

Food and food supplements can play an important role in keeping your defense systems rallied and ready for an assault.

First line of defense: a good diet. It’s no secret that next to sleeping well, eating well, which means eating a wide variety of whole and wholesome foods, is a gal’s best friend during cold season. That includes whole grains as well as seeds and nuts; lots of fresh, preferably organic, fruit and vegetables (don’t forget lots of fresh garlic, ginger and onions); and, if you’re an omnivore, fish for those omega-3s and small but regular quantities of quality meats. If you’re not an omnivore, make sure you balance your vegan or vegetarian intake for complete proteins to keep your good health good.

Among the immunity-boosting antioxidants, vitamin C can be your best friend this time of year. Most of us get about half of our daily dose from tomatoes and citrus fruit, but remember that cooking or improper preparation or storage can destroy a lot of the goodness in your fruits and veggies. For instance, vitamin C is destroyed in water, so don’t chop up a bunch of carrot sticks and leave them in a cold-water bath in the fridge to keep them crunchy like my granny did.

If you’re tired of oranges, oranges and more oranges for your natural vitamin C supply, consider beets, kiwis, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries – in fact all the small, deliciously dark fruits. For one of your cheapest and more delicious supplies of vitamin C, this coming August remember to pick extra blackberries (or whatever kind of berries you can find) and freeze them for the coming winter. It’s so easy to do.

First, don’t wash them! Just pick out the bits of stems and unwanted debris. If you have room in your freezer, lay out the berries on cookie sheets or big pans. Once they’re frozen, store them in tightly sealed freezer bags – double bag if you think they’ll be in there a while so they don’t pick up that icky "fridge" taste.