Cases of the “common cold” are most prevalent in the fall and winter months in the United States. Yet it is not the actual cold weather that causes the cold, but over 200 different viruses that we become more susceptible to during the colder months. Don't worry though, there are many steps you can take to keep your immune system functioning at maximum germ-fighting capacity!
Vitamin C is the OG immunity-booster. New research suggests that in addition to preventing you from getting sick, having vitamin C in your system can also help you recover faster. Probiotics, which are live bacteria cultures found in fermented foods like yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, and pickles, can also help keep a healthy internal environment in your gut. Research studies have shown that people who consumed products that contained probiotics on a daily basis got fewer colds. The next time you are at the grocery store, pick up some sauerkraut or pickles to add to your sandwiches to make your gut happy!
In addition to 'the powerhouse' aka Vitamin C, many nutrients play an important role in keeping us healthy during the flu season. Basically, a balanced diet is where it’s at! Zinc has been described as the “gatekeeper” of the immune system, which means this nutrient is vital in helping your body quickly eliminate those cold viruses as quickly as possible!
The great news is, there are many sources of zinc to keep your immune system powered on campus:
1. that burger of The Boathouse,
2. the chickpeas in your salad at Osprey Café,
3. and the eggs in your bagel at Einstein Bros Bagels all are great sources.
You may be surprised to learn that omega-3 fatty acids reduce the inflammation associated with a cold, flu, and allergies by moderating the activity of the immune system so that it functions efficiently without making you feel so miserable in the meanwhile. The go-to source of those healthy fats are fish like salmon, but you can also increase your intake by adding walnuts to your salad at the Osprey Café, and enjoying edamame (or soybeans!) with your sushi at Chop'd & Wrap'd!
There are many ways you can incorporate these nutrients into your diet daily while eating on campus. Many people think instantly of smoothies or 'juice drinks' when they think of getting in their vitamins as they often use real fruit and veggies and retain a high vitamin content. Smoothies can be a great option and can found on campus at Jamba Juice, Pita Pit, and the Osprey Café. Look for smoothies made from citrus fruits, like kiwi and strawberries, to maximize vitamin C intake. That's not it though! There are many other ways to incorporate immunity-boosting nutrients into your diet. For example, try adding bell peppers to your pita at Pita Pit, or to even your stir-fry or salad at the Osprey Café for a vitamin C boost. The Osprey Café has a wide range of fruits to choose from all day long like cantaloupe, which is high in vitamin A. You can also find grab-and-go fruits at Outtakes for a nutrient-dense snack during your study sessions. And don’t forget about the vegetables! You can often grab a side of vitamin C-rich vegetables like broccoli or Brussels sprouts at the kitchen station at the Café, or throw them raw into your salad at the salad station. Pair these with omega-3 and zinc-rich items and your immune system will be set and ready to handle this cold season.
Beyond just nutrient-rich food, there are other ways to help fight off those winter colds. Washing your hands, staying hydrated, setting aside time to exercise, and getting adequate sleep at night can all help prevent those nasty colds.[4,5] No one likes the awful feeling of being sick, so be sure to implement some of these simple tricks to keep your immune system strong and healthy Ospreys!
1. FCL wednesday september 26th beat the flu & colds this season! First Coast News; 2018.
2. Wessels I, Maywald M, and Rink L. Zinc as a Gatekeeper of Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9(12):1286.
3. DeRosa V, Galgani M, Santopaolo, M, et al. Review: Nutritional control of immunity: Balancing the metabolic requirements with an appropriate immune function. Nutrition and Immunology. September 2015;27(5):300-309.
4. Simpson RJ, Lowder TW, Spielmann G, Bigley AB, LaVoy EC, Kunz H. Review: Exercise and the aging immune system. Ageing Research Reviews. 2012;11:404-420. https://login.dax.lib.unf.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=edselp&AN=S1568163712000438&site=eds-live&scope=site. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2012.03.003.
5. Eric J. Olson. Can lack of sleep make you sick? Mayo Clinic Web site. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/insomnia/expert-answers/lack-of-sleep/faq-20057757. Accessed Nov 20, 2018.