Friday, February 28, 2014

Fight The Flu with Fruit

It’s cold, it’s wet and its nasty outside, all the perfect ingredients for an active flu season. Like death and taxes, one thing we can count on is an active flu season.  Let’s face it, every winter we face less than ideal conditions and one runny nose can lead to an outbreak of the flu!
While flu shots are available and practicing good hygiene habits can limit our odds of contracting the flu, what we eat can also play a role in reducing the chances of coming down with one of nature’s nasty little treats.  While nature serves up the flu bug every year, she also provides us some level of protection in the form of fruit.
What I like to call “nature’s candy” fruit has numerous health benefits including the ability to help fight diseases such as the flu.  According to Amy Palanjian of Men’s Health, if you're not eating these recommended 5 fruits and vegetables a day, here's a new reason to head to the produce aisle.

Apples - The most popular source of antioxidants in our diet, one apple has an antioxidant effect equivalent to 1,500 mg of vitamin C. Apples are loaded with protective flavonoids, which may prevent heart disease and cancer.
Papayas - With 250 percent of the RDA of vitamin C, a papaya can help kick a cold right out of your system. The beta-carotene and vitamins C and E in papayas reduce inflammation throughout the body, lessening the effects of asthma.
Cranberries - Cranberries have more antioxidants than other common fruits and veggies. One serving has five times the amount in broccoli. Cranberries are a natural probiotic, enhancing good bacteria levels in the stomach and protecting it from foodborne illnesses.
Grapefruit - Loaded with vitamin C, grapefruit also contains natural compounds called limonoids, which can lower cholesterol. The red varieties are a potent source of the cancer-fighting substance lycopene. Note if you are taking a statin for lowering your cholesterol, please check with your doctor or pharmacist before consuming grapefruit or grapefruit juice.
Bananas - One of the top food sources of vitamin B6, bananas help reduce fatigue, depression, stress, and insomnia. Bananas are high in magnesium, which keeps bones strong, and potassium, which helps prevent heart disease and high blood pressure.

Other good fruits and vegetables that help improve your immune system include oranges, black berries, raspberries, blue berries, strawberries, cherries and dark green vegetables. It is also better to consume the flesh of the fruit and not fruit juice such as apple, orange or grapefruit juice unless fresh squeezed at home. Most commercial fruit juices contain as much if not more added sugar than a can of soda while being stripped of many of the health enhancing antioxidants, vitamins and other nutrients.

Chris is a Certified Personal Trainer and exercise and endurance enthusiast.  He competes yearly in numerous running races, marathons, ultra marathons, triathlons and other endurance events.