Can Certain Foods Help Reduce Your Risk of Getting the Flu?
Flu season is on its way. Dr. Malik who leads the Master of Science in Nutrition for Wellness program at Bastyr University shares the immune-boosting potential of certain foods that may help reduce your chances of getting sick?
- Mushrooms – a good source of vitamin D and an underutilized immune-boosting food. In fact, clinical researchers discovered improved immune responses in cancer patients who are receiving chemotherapy and radiation after consuming mushrooms.
- Turmeric – typically found as a bright yellow powder, this immune system booster is often used in Asian curry dishes. You may also find turmeric supplements, but be careful with these - many have failed quality testing but are still available on store shelves.
- Sweet potato – a fall and winter favorite that’s high in vitamins A and C, a one-two punch when it comes to knocking out bacteria and viruses.
- Ginger – may help our immune cells win the battle against colds and the flu. Add fresh ginger to your stir-fry recipes or as part of a salad dressing!
- Fresh garlic - researchers are discovering that this common ingredient may help kill bacteria and viruses. When possible, consume fresh garlic as opposed to relying on garlic capsules/supplements--the jury is still out as to whether these have the same effect.
- Hot tea – a perfect beverage on a cold day, we are finding that it may help our bodies ward off infections. Not only that, but as an added bonus, drinking tea will help keep you hydrated.
- Cinnamon – a fall and winter favorite, it contains essential oils that may help reduce the amount of time we spend getting over a cold or the flu. But, be careful about using cinnamon sugar, which is not the same as pure cinnamon!
- Berries – naturally high in vitamin C and other powerful antioxidants, these can be enjoyed fresh or frozen. I would recommend consuming whole berries, rather than relying on juices/smoothies. There has been some talk that Elderberries may help you recover from illnesses faster, but further research is needed to know for sure.
- Honey – this sweetener has been used as an antibiotic for centuries. It was believed that ancient Romans would apply it to their eyes when they had a bout of conjunctivitis (“pink eye”). Turns out, they were on to something: honey has been found to prevent the growth of bacteria. Add it to your tea or as a topping on your whole grain pancakes or waffles.
- Yogurt - a good source of vitamin A, protein and zinc, yogurt is a great snack. Not only that, but yogurt contains healthy bacteria that may protect your digestive tract from disease-causing germs.
- Combine yogurt, berries, and a teaspoon of honey, and you’ve got a near perfect superhero snack!
About Dr. Neal Malik
Neal Malik, DrPH, MPH, RDN, CHES, EP-C leads the Master of Science in Nutrition for Well program and teaches core courses at Bastyr University’s California campus. Dr. Malik is also a Certified Exercise Physiologist, as well as a Certified Health Education Specialist.
Dr. Malik is highly devoted to helping the community achieve optimal health. He focuses on nurturing the mind, body and spirit to maintain a state of positive wellness.
About Bastyr University
Kenmore, Washington – For the past 30 years, the need for naturopathic medicine has grown tremendously. According to studies from the National Institutes of Health, an increasing number of people are seeking out alternative forms of treatment to heal medical conditions, reduce stress and relieve chronic pain. In response to the growing field of naturopathic medicine, hospitals across the US are weaving conventional practices with more holistic approaches, known as complementary medicine. The rise of complementary medicine puts naturopathic doctors in high demand.
Internationally recognized as a pioneer in natural medicine, Bastyr University offers unique degree programs that prepare aspiring professionals to excel in Naturopathic Medicine. Founded in 1978, Bastyr is the largest university for natural health arts and sciences in the U.S., combining a multidisciplinary curriculum with leading-edge research and clinical training to educate future leaders in fields such as naturopathic medicine, acupuncture and Oriental medicine, and whole food nutrition. Bastyr's international faculty teaches the natural health sciences with an emphasis on integrating mind, body, spirit and nature. A pioneer in natural medicine since its inception, Bastyr continues to be in the forefront of developing the model for 21st-century medicine.
“Offering more than 20 degree and certified programs in fields such as naturopathic medicine, acupuncture, nutrition, midwifery, biology and many more”, said University President Mac Powell, “our students graduate with a well-rounded education and are fully prepared to use integrative and collaborative treatments to combat the increasing health challenges our communities are facing.”
Bastyr’s primary campus is located in Kenmore, Washington and they have a second campus in San Diego, California, which opened in 2012, becoming California’s first and only accredited school of naturopathic medicine.