Do you starve a cold and feed a fever when you're feeling under the weather? Or is it the other way around? Good news -- starving is never the correct answer.
When you eat a nutritional, well-balanced diet, many other factors fall in place that keep your body functioning optimally. Foods that are rich in nutrients help fight infections and may help to prevent illness. Because a wide array of nutrients in foods -- some of which we may not even know about -- are essential for wellness, relying on dietary supplements (vitamins and minerals) for good nutrition may limit your intake to just the known nutritional compounds rather than letting you get the full benefit of all nutrients available in food.
What is it about swine flu that has people so nervous? Should seniors in particular be worried? To learn more, WebMD went to medical experts and got their answers to these and other questions about the 2009 H1N1 virus.
Let's look at some of the top recommendations for staying healthy.
Colds and Foods High in Antioxidants
Eating foods high in antioxidants -- beta-carotene and vitamins C and E -- may be a good way to help build a strong immune system. Antioxidants are essential nutrients. They help protect your body against life's stressors, and are thought to play a role in the body's cell protection system. They may interfere with the disease process by neutralizing free radicals. Free radicals are special molecules that can disrupt and tear apart vital cell structures such as cell membranes. Antioxidants may take away the destructive power of free radicals, thus helping to reduce your chance of illness. They may also help you recover from an illness more quickly.
Including more raw fruits and vegetables in your diet is the best way to ensure a high intake of antioxidants. And when you cook these super-nutrients, be sure you cook them using as little liquid as possible to prevent nutrient loss.
If you follow the guidelines issued by most health organizations and eat five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables daily, you can easily get enough antioxidants. For example, one quarter of a cantaloupe gives you nearly half the recommended daily requirement of beta-carotene and is a rich source of vitamin C. Spinach is not only full of beta-carotene, but also contains vitamin C, folic acid, and magnesium.
Foods rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids include: Apricots, asparagus, beef liver, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, guava, kale, mangoes, mustard and collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash (yellow and winter), sweet potato, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelon.
Foods rich in vitamin C include: broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, kale, kiwi, orange juice, papaya, red, green or yellow pepper, sweet potato, strawberries, and tomatoes.
Foods rich in vitamin E include: almonds, corn oil, cod-liver oil, hazelnuts, lobster, peanut butter, safflower oil, salmon steak, and sunflower seeds.
Colds and Foods High in Bioflavonoids
Foods high in bioflavonoids may also help you stay healthy. Hosts of experiments on bioflavonoids have suggested that these key nutrients help increase immune system activation. These biochemically active substances accompany vitamin C in plants and act as an antioxidant. You can find bioflavonoids in the pulp and white core that runs through the center of citrus fruits, green peppers, lemons, limes, oranges, cherries, and grapes. Quercetin is a highly concentrated form of bioflavonoids found in broccoli, citrus fruits, and red and yellow onions.