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By Hiba Giacoletto, Healthwise

With the start of the cold season, are people around you sniffling and coughing? Now is the time to start boosting your immune system so you can keep the dreaded cold and flu virus at bay with delicious, whole foods and common-sense lifestyle shifts!

Here are a few ideas:

Meet the allium family
Vegetables from the allium family - onion, garlic, leeks, shallots, chives, spring onion - are among the best foods to boost your immune system. Garlic in particular, has been shown to fight bacteria, viruses, and fungi. So add these wonderfully pungent vegetables to your soups, stews, sauces and salads!

Get your selenium on
Selenium is one of the most underrated minerals to help boost immunity, yet research shows that it helps the body fight everything, from cancerous cells to the common cold. The easiest and most delicious way to get enough selenium? Eat up to two Brazil nuts every day.

Include zinc-rich foods
Zinc helps keep the immune system functioning properly and can shorten the duration of a cold. Make sure you include zinc-rich foods in your meals such as lamb, beef, oysters, almonds, sesame seeds and tahini, pumpkin seeds, oats, turkey, green peas, pine nuts, spinach, beans and raw cacao.

Eat more mushrooms
Mushrooms like shiitake can really give your immune system a boost. Add them to soups, stir-fry’s, sauces or as a side with eggs.

Vitamin C
You’ve been waiting for this one, haven’t you? Did you know that studies are showing that it is actually more effective to get Vitamin C through food than as a supplement and that it is only effective as part of a healthy diet? So there really is no point in eating junk, then taking a Vitamin C supplement…

In-season food sources of Vitamin C include:

  • Citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and grapefruit
  • Kiwi
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Parsley
  • Kale
  • Cauliflower
  • Fennel
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Squash
  • Swiss Chard

Eat less sugar, especially refined sugar
Sugar actually decreases the ability of infection-fighting white blood cells to fend off harmful bacteria and viruses. Sugar is addictive, so the less you eat, the less you will crave it.

Listen to your body’s need to rest
It’s always important to listen to your body, but especially so when you need to fend off a nasty virus. Honor your body’s need for rest and sleep – most people actually need more down time in the colder, darker months. Say ‘no’ to activities when you feel the need to.

Commit to stressing less
We don’t necessarily associate stress with catching a cold or the flu, but stress actually lowers our immunity, making us more susceptible to catch what’s going around. Take a good look at your life and think of what activities you could say ‘yes’ to more often and what you could say ‘no’ to more.

Ginger Tea
According to Ayurvedic traditions, ginger helps to cleanse the lymphatic system, which is our body’s sewage system. Adding ginger to meals, smoothies or even drinking it may help prevent the accumulation of the toxins that increase your risk of getting sick.

Here is my recipe for ginger tea, which I make whenever I feel I might be coming down with something.

Ginger Tea
Grate about 1 tablespoon of fresh ginger in 1 cup of boiling water for ten minutes. Cover to allow the ginger to steep, then add some fresh lemon and a little honey. Drink up to 4 cups daily.

You can also try my immune-boosting Spaghetti Squash Stir-Fry to help you stay healthy this season:
http://www.healthwise.ch/immune-boosting-spaghetti-squash-stir-fry/

Sources:
http://www.liverdoctor.com/selenium-the-immune-system-mineral/

http://www.passeportsante.net/fr/Nutrition/Dietes/Fiche.aspx?doc=grippe-rhume-alimentation-en-10-questions-diete

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/12/31/organic-mushrooms-for-immune-support.aspx

http://www.health.harvard.edu/flu-resource-center/how-to-boost-your-immune-system.htm

Author's bio

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Hiba Giacoletto is a Certified Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition (IIN) with a Masters Degree in Psychology

Hiba helps people lose weight, feel more energetic or take control of their eating without diets or deprivation. She believes that no one way of eating or living works for everyone and that it is about experimenting to find what truly works for you. She uses a unique blend of NUTRITION + PSYCHOLOGY + COACHING to help people start trusting their body's wisdom to make food and lifestyle choices that enable them to look and feel their best. She is convinced that regardless of what you might have tried in the past, she can help you get unstuck, overcome self-sabotage behavior and find your mojo!

You can book a FREE 45 minute Health Chat via her website, www.healthwise.ch to find out whether Health Coaching is right for you.

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