An old adage that has been said and heard for many years is that ‘An apple a day keeps the doctor away’. While the saying effectively reflects the power of foods to fight diseases; in practical terms, our body would actually need much more than an apple to keep the doctors and diseases away!
There is no doubt that healthy eating habits lead to healthy lifestyles with increased immunity to fight various illness and infections. However, there still would be some diseases and infections, which would keep striking us, once in a while, regardless of how well we plan our meal options. Common cold and flu are perhaps one of those diseases. Whilst nutrition cannot completely eliminate the chances of contracting flu, it would certainly be helpful in strengthening our immune system and lessening the duration and severity of flu’s symptoms.
Recently, scientists have unraveled the complex mechanism of the immune system and its dependence on diet. Nothing makes as much difference to our health as a well-functioning immune system. If we have a good immunity, we can prevent anything from common cold to viral infection, stomach disorders, and chronic fatigue to even deadly cancer. Foods contain antioxidants, which stimulate the body’s immune functions and increase our resistance to infections.
The Diet and Flu connection
Influenza or flu is a respiratory tract infection caused by a variety of flu viruses with symptoms like fatigue, fever or headaches. When one of these viruses gets into our body, our immune system tries to fight back. Some of the effects of this immune response are lower respiratory tract irritation with the most commonly witnessed symptoms being congestion and coughing.
ü Experts believe that the primary cause of colds or the flu is a buildup of toxins in the body. This build up or “toxemia” depresses the immune system and in turn makes a person vulnerable to attack by viruses.
ü Recurring viral symptoms of colds, flu, bronchitis, sinusitis and sore throats are all signs of sub-clinical immune deficiency and what we choose to put into our mouth accounts for our first line of defense against diseases. Thus, instead of turning to endless pills, it’s always better to try natural flu-fighters present in foodstuffs all around us and enhance our immune system.
ü Certain foods help to thin out and aid lung secretions in such a way that they do not clog air passages and can also get the mucous coughed up or normally expelled. Such foods are referred to as ‘muco kinetic’ (mucous-moving) agents and include foods like chilli, peppers, radish or mooli, onion, garlic, mustard oil, curry spices like garam masala and cloves. On the other hand, there are certain foods that increase the secretion of mucus in the body and are known as mucogenic foods, e.g. milk, bananas, fried foods, etc. It is quite obvious that the ideal way to fight flu would be to add mucokinetic foods in the diet while trying to restrict the mucogenic ones, especially during a flu attack.
The Next article in the series ‘ Vital nutrients that Boost your immunity’
Written by Panchali Moitra