Your office at work is like preschool in a lot of ways. For one, it’s an incubus of germs that flow freely from one office mate to the next, infecting any unprepared cubicles along the way. Keeping hand sanitizer within arm's reach will certainly help wash away any of the germs you pick up along the way. Boosting your immune system, however, is a smarter way to head off the office cold at the pass.
Dr. Kim Bruno, of Colorado Center of Heath & Nutrition in Fort Collins, suggests looking at the foods you eat on a daily basis and coming up with an immune-regulating regimen for cold and flu season. “By increasing certain immune-boosting foods and protective supplements and decreasing other immune-suppressing foods," she says, "you will be giving your immune system the nutrients it needs for defense during the cold and flu season.” One of the immune-suppressing foods to avoid is sugar, as it works to negatively affect the balance of healthy gut flora. Foods to increase, she says, are whole fruits and vegetables high in vitamin C, zinc, vitamin D, and good bacteria. One such food is garlic.
In a British study, 146 people were given either garlic extract or a placebo for 12 weeks. When the results were in, it showed that the garlic takers were two-thirds less likely to catch a cold. Garlic works inside the body to promote the growth of white blood cells to fight infection and illness. Since it isn’t the easiest snack food to munch on throughout the day, taking garlic supplements or loading up on it during dinner could help you fight off a cold.
Sipping tea is another way to boost your body’s immune system. A Harvard University study found that immune cells of tea drinkers responded to germs five times faster than those of participants who drank coffee instead. Green tea is loaded with antioxidants including EGCG, which helps your immune system to combat inflammation. So if you hear a sneeze coming from marketing, swap out your morning cup of Joe for some tea STAT.
For optimal cold-combating results, pump your body full of healing foods all day long. Snacking on immune-boosting foods means you will be working overtime to ensure that you don’t catch the office cold. Here are the 11 most effective foods to snack on during cold and flu season.
Blueberries are a superfood. Per serving, they are packed with more antioxidants than any other fruit or vegetable and are high in vitamins A and C, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and iron. They boost immunity against everyday illness and also help to fight belly fat. Is there a reason you aren’t shoving these in your face right now?
Brazil nuts are rich in protein, omega fats, and selenium, a mineral that helps guard against colds, flu, and infection. Since the body only needs a small amount of selenium a day, snack on these sparingly and stick to the right serving size.