The sniffles. Nausea. Stuffed up sinuses. A cough. Yup! It’s cold and flu season again, and those are just some of the symptoms that go along with these illnesses. This wonderful time of the year usually takes place between November until March or April. Now is the time to begin to do what you can so you and your loved ones are protected this year from symptoms of cold and flu. What can you do to ward off signs of these illnesses? As a part of the #LoblawFluCrew we are sharing Ward Off Cold and Flu Symptoms with These Helpful Tips, so you can put these into play to help, and a super delicious Squash and Miso Soup recipe!
Ward Off Cold and Flu Symptoms with These Helpful Tips
1. Good hygiene is key
Hands are one of the biggest transmitters of cold and flu. We touch so many things that have been previously touched by other people and things. This can result in viruses entering our bodies, making us sick. How do you stop this from happening? Practicing good hygiene is an important step to take to prevent getting sick. One of the best ways of doing this is by washing your hands often with warm water and soap. Make sure you do this for at least 20 seconds. Find it hard to keep track of time while washing your hands? Pop a short song, like “The Birthday Song” in your head to help gauge the proper amount of time.
2. Build up your immune system
Having good hygiene is great, but keeping the inside of your body strong is also important to fighting cold and flu. Your immune system attacks any virus that enters your body so you do not get seriously ill. How do you keep a strong immune system? Here are some tricks:
- A good night’s sleep (roughly about seven to eight hours each night)
- Drinking plenty of fluids (at least 8 glasses of water each day)
- Staying active (getting a workout outdoors or indoors)
- Eating healthy food
Okay, so the first three points are pretty self-explanatory, but eating healthy food can be a bit difficult. Which foods are better than others to consume in order to build and maintain a strong immune system? From the food aisle to the pharmacy, your local Loblaws has great products to help you maintain your health during cold and flu season. Did you know that they have in-store dietitians that can help you prepare for cold and flu season? They are an amazing resource to consult to find nutrient-rich foods and recipes that help support good overall and immune health.
Maylinda Bernard-Hovington, RD, Dt.P. is one of the dietitians at Loblaws in Ontario who can guide you around the store to support different areas of your health. She is a graduate from the University of Ottawa. Her goal is to provide you with accurate and up to date nutrition information.
Maylinda took the time to share with me some of the foods we should stock up on in order to have a strong immune system in a one-on-one consultation. Here are some of the questions I asked her about food and immune system health.
*Note that I’ve paraphrased Maylinda’s responses.*
What is it inside of certain foods that make them better for fighting cold and flu symptoms than other foods?
Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. They are essential to strengthening your immunity. This is why it is important to have a lot of fresh food in your diet. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, or any plant foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes are great ones to consume. They also provide antioxidants that help to protect your body against cold and flu viruses. As well, the less processed the food is you consume (less salt, sugar, additives, and preservatives) the better.
Probiotics help out in the fight against viruses. A lot of our immunity is found in our gut. If you have a healthy gut, it will be reflected in your immune system. Probiotics help to regulate your gut so it can combat the viruses.
Which foods are the best for helping to fight cold and flu symptoms?
Some of the best foods to eat to help fight against cold and flu symptoms are fruits, vegetables, whole grains. Pumpkin seeds (crushed or roasted) added to food are also great to eat as it is one of the best sources of zinc.
Again, a probiotic helps strengthen your immune system. A great drink to turn to for probiotics is Kefir – it’s great for our gut health and immunity. You can make a smoothie with it, drizzle it over tomato soup or simply drink it as it is.
Taking a Vitamin D supplement at this time of the year is vital to keeping your immune system strong. As Canadians, we do not get as many hours of sunlight and we tend to not get outside as often as we should. This means we lose taking the Vitamin D we would usually get from the sun’s rays. Taking a Vitamin D supplement will help replace what you do not get at this time of the year and it also helps to strengthen your immunity.
Fresh vs. Frozen: Which is the best for us to consume at this time of year?
There is a misconception that frozen is not good. This is not always the case. When they are harvested, they are flash frozen, trapping in the freshness and nutrients. Frozen can be seen as being on par with fresh fruits and vegetables. As long there are no additives or preservatives mixed into the food, frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables are both great options to eat to help fight against cold and flu symptoms.
How important is it to get vaccinated along with eating these foods?
Getting vaccinated is important. It is a part of a combination of things we can do to protect ourselves and loved ones against the flu. It is simple and takes only a few minutes to do.
What is your favourite food and dish to eat to help strengthen your body against cold and flu symptoms?
Fruits and vegetables. Roasting them is a great way to enjoy these foods if you are looking for an alternative to a salad. It is also an easy way to consume them. Soups are also a delicious way to get your fruits and vegetables in your diet during the fall and winter. Smoothies are a fabulous way of stocking up on these foods in the mornings, especially with kale and spinach. Anything with protein works because our immune system is made up of this macronutrient. Chicken noodle soup would be good to eat because it contains proteins and vegetables your body needs to repair and strengthen itself.
Maylinda also shared a recipe for Squash and Miso Soup to help your body fight off symptoms of cold and flu this year. It is packed full of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, potassium, and fibre.
Squash and Miso Soup Recipe
Squash and Miso Soup
- Olive oil
- ½ a leek sliced
- 1 butternut squash halved, seeds removed, peeled and sliced in ½ inch thick pieces
- 2 large white parsnip cut in large pieces
- 1.25 L of vegetable broth
- 2 – ½ tbsp 32 mL white miso paste (or curry paste)
- 1 – ½ tbsp 22 mL fresh lemon juice
- 3 green onions finely chopped
- 2 tbsp 25 mL PC Unsalted Raw Pumpkin Seeds
- 1 can or white kidney beans rinsed
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1. Sauté the leeks in olive oil for 2 or 3 minutes
- 2. Place squash, parsnips and 4 ½ cups (1.25 L) of vegetable broth in large sauce pan; bring to a boil.
- 3. Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
- 4. Transfer about 1 cup (250 mL) of the soup in small bowl; whisk in miso until blended. Return the blend to saucepan.
- 5. Mash some of the squash mixture using wooden spoon to thicken soup. Then add the white kidney beans.
- 6. Bring to a boil to heat through.
- 7. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice.
- 8. Ladle soup into bowl; garnish with onions and pumpkin seeds.
3. Get vaccinated!
Yikes! A shot? Really? Yes. Depending on how well the vaccine is matched to this year’s common viruses, 70-90 per cent of flu cases can be averted through vaccination.
When is the best time to get vaccinated? NOW! The virus takes about two weeks to take effect, so the earlier you and your family are vaccinated, there is more of a chance you will be protected against this year’s strain of the flu.
Who should be vaccinated? Well, it is ideal for your home family to be protected from the flu. According to the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, everyone should be vaccinated for the flu, but here are the groups of people who get effected by the flu:
- Healthy children between six months to five years-old
- Healthy pregnant women at any stage during their pregnancy
- Individuals 65 years of age and older
- Children and adults with chronic medical conditions.
The flu shot is the best way to prevent the flu. They are now available through in-store pharmacists Loblaws stores across the country starting in the fall!
What to learn more interesting cold and flu food facts? Head to Loblaws to book anappointment with one of their in-store registered dietitians for more information on food that help support good overall and immune health. While you are there, you should also visit your in-store pharmacist to get you and your family vaccinated for the flu!
Do you have any tips and tricks to help ward off colds and the flu? Share with us your tips or special recipes you use to keep your family healthy or feeling better when they are sick during this time of the year.
Disclaimer: This post was generously sponsored by Loblaws. The views I shared are my own.