How frustrating. I had just finished writing an in-depth research feature on maintaining a healthy immune system and I was positive I would not get sick. I was consistently eating a polyphenol-rich diet of fruits, vegetables and green tea, regulating stress with yoga and daily runs, and attempting to obtain at least seven hours of sleep per night. But after a mere two nights of substandard shut-eye and a rather strenuous hike on Saturday, I woke up Sunday with a horrible feeling of lethargy, headache, sore throat and sniffles. What gives?
I vowed to combat this cold right from the beginning. Apart from inciting my housemates to pity me by incessantly moaning and groaning (which peculiarly did make me feel better) I took a trip to my neighborhood natural foods store. Armed with my recently gleaned immunity knowledge, I bought an arsenal of cold-fighting products. I offer you my top picks.
While writing my article, I was surprised by the strong correlation between probiotics and a healthy immune system. Numerous studies show that probiotics foster the growth of good bacteria, thereby inhibiting harmful bacteria the immune system would otherwise have to handle. This makes sense considering the digestive system is one of the first lines of defense against infection.
Zinc is believed to significantly reduce the duration of cold symptoms, especially when dissolved in the mouth rather than swallowed in capsule form. In a study conducted at the University of Helsinki, Finnish researchers found that zinc lozenges were useful in shortening the duration of common cold symptoms by up to 40 percent.
Vitamins and minerals
In the past I have been skeptical of supplements. How could it be that the natural, plant-based foods I was diligently eating did not provide the nutrients I needed? Then Emergen-C came into my life. A small packet chock-full of vitamin C, magnesium and potassium, the supplement is easily dissolvable in water, and tastes pretty decent. I'll drink lots of juice as well for an extra boost of vitamins and minerals.
And as any doctor (or mom) will tell you: drink lots of fluids, take lots of catnaps, and wash your hands!