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Five foods and four supplements that can strengthen your immune system



As humans, we share our environment with a multitude of microorganisms – bacteria, viruses, parasites – that are alien to us.

The body does its best to deal with these invaders using a complex process based on a number of factors.

But what can we as humans do to support our immune system?

With COVID-19 remaining a threat, you are probably thinking about ways to boost your own and your family’s immune systems.

Many of us cram our pill boxes full of nutritional supplements, reach for cleansing drinks, and swallow more chewable vitamin C than you can shake off a flu shot – all in hopes you won’t get sick.

Different colors and types of fruits and vegetables are important to provide useful nutrients for yourself and your family. Photo credit: Lew Robertson/Getty Images

The question is, does it all work? And does it work as well – or better than – things we could naturally do, like eat well, sleep well, wash our hands, and avoid cigarettes?

Experts recently suggested that the concept of “strengthening” the immune system may not be what the body needs.

Instead, a person should want their body to have the correct immune response when it is needed. This requires a balanced immune system.

In addition to well-known immune regulators such as adequate physical activity and a healthy diet, these are the few foods and dietary supplements that can support the immune system.

Foods That Can Help Your Body Fight COVID-19, Cold, and Flu

1. Colorful fruits and vegetables

Eating fruits and vegetables will boost your circulation of all of the nutrients for the cold and flu that you want to include in pills like vitamins C, D, E, zinc, and selenium.

Different colors and types of fruits and vegetables are important to provide useful nutrients for yourself and your family.

2. Garlic

Garlic belongs to the allium family. Any member of this family, including onions and leeks, can help build your immunity to the diseases that are most common during the colder months.

A 2020 review of 33 studies found a list of whole foods that may reduce the risk of upper respiratory infections, and garlic took the cut.

While studies were conducted prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, they still conclude the effectiveness of a healthy diet in preventing and healing ailments.

3. Chicken soup

“Chicken noodle soup is good for the soul.”

We’ve all heard it before, but did you know it’s good for more than just that?

A study in CHEST magazine is probably the most extensive cited in articles and shows why chicken soup works for colds. It concluded that chicken soup can actually be a real cure for the common cold.

It provides fluid that we may need more of if we have COVID-19, a cold, or the flu. Also, hopefully chicken soup has carrots and onions in the recipe, which also boost the antioxidants.

It doesn’t hurt that it is delicious, especially for your kids!

A study in CHEST magazine is probably the most extensive cited in articles and shows why chicken soup works for colds.  It concluded that chicken soup can actually be a real cure for the common cold. 

A study in CHEST magazine is probably the most extensive cited in articles and shows why chicken soup works for colds. It concluded that chicken soup can actually be a real cure for the common cold.

Photo credit: Westend61/Getty Images

4. Whole grains

Eating whole grains (think intact grains like buckwheat, brown rice, and oats) helps healthy gut bacteria thrive. This process can help strengthen your immune system.

Whole grains are one of the foods recommended for consumption to support a strong immune system that can help fight COVID-19.

5. Fish oil (omega-3)

When you think of fighting COVID-19, a cold, or the flu, fish probably isn’t the first food you think of.

Maybe this thinking needs to change.

A recent review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences finds that omega-3 fatty acids in food actually promote specific immune responses.

A recent review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences finds that omega-3 fatty acids in food actually promote specific immune responses.A recent review in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences finds that omega-3 fatty acids in food actually promote specific immune responses. Photo credit: Iryna Veklich/Getty Images

If you are a smoker, a habit that severely limits the body’s ability to fight COVID-19 and seasonal illnesses like the common cold and flu, you should quit.

You can also use a healthy dose of fish oil each day to help you out. One study found that this could reduce nicotine cravings and the amount of cigarettes smoked daily.

You can get your daily dose of omega-3 fatty acids by adding salmon, trout, and sardines to your diet, as well as plant sources like hemp seeds and walnuts.

Food supplements that can boost your immune system

1. Vitamin D

Even with a “perfect” diet it would be very difficult to get enough vitamin D because few foods provide enough of it.

Oily fish is probably the best source of vitamin D, followed by egg yolks and liver.

But the best source of vitamin D is UV radiation from the sun, which is absorbed through the skin.

A 2017 study by the British Medical Journal found that a nutritional supplement was not only outside and safe in the sun, it could also protect against colds and flu.

Another study, conducted by the University of Chicago Medicine in 2021, found that elevated vitamin D levels above recommended levels can actually reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection in the people studied.

2. zinc

A 2016 study found that zinc supplementation helped increase zinc levels and immunity in older adults.

Although you can get zinc from foods like sesame and pumpkin seeds, lentils, and turkey, the elderly population studied were more prone to ingesting insufficient amounts in their diet, making them more prone to infection.

Further studies have shown that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold.

Studies have shown that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold.Studies have shown that zinc can shorten the duration of a cold. Photo credit: Akaradech Pramoonsin/Getty Images

3. Probiotics

When it comes to building defenses against the cold and flu, start by building the army in your belly.

A 2017 animal study found that a specific gut microbe triggered by consuming flavonoids in tea, berries, and chocolate could help reduce the incidence of viral infections.

4. Vitamin C

Many studies have linked taking larger doses of vitamin C with lowering the common cold and COVID-19 by reducing inflammation in the lungs.

In addition, the vitamin offers an increased ability to fight infections.

However, keep in mind that consuming megadoses of vitamin C can cause diarrhea and stomach upset.

While it is most likely safe to ingest the tablets and powder packets, try not to burst them all day long. The upper tolerable limit for adults is 2000 mg.

Bottom line

In addition to dietary factors, maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress, getting adequate sleep, regular physical activity, and good hand washing practices are all vital in the fight against COVID-19, the cold virus, and the flu.

Diet supplements work best when you need higher doses like vitamin C or when you’re trying to get a nutrient that your body has trouble getting from food, like vitamin D.

However, you should most likely avoid the various cleansers and vitamin combinations that promise a cure for infections beyond washing your hands properly.

As with most things that help reduce the risk of infection, chronic illness, and early death, it’s not one thing the “miracle cure” offers, but a variety of good lifestyle choices that make all the difference.

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Whole Grains Health

The Pros and Cons of Vegetarian Diets



Many people follow a vegetarian diet to improve their health. The health benefits of a vegetarian diet are well documented. But this diet also has disadvantages. When thinking about following a vegetarian diet, consider these pros and cons to make sure it is right for you.

Pros: A vegetarian diet can lower your risk of disease.

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and seeds are at the heart of a healthy, balanced vegetarian diet. These foods provide an abundance of health-protecting vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber that can lower the risk of common chronic diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, some cancers, and obesity.

Cons: Just because it’s vegetarian doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

On the other hand, if your vegetarian diet includes a lot of highly processed foods instead of whole plant foods, the risk of some chronic diseases may even increase. There are plenty of junk foods that can fit into a vegetarian diet but are not good for you – think soda, chips, and cookies, among others. Packaged vegetarian meals and snacks can contain high amounts of added sugar, sodium, and fat and offer little to no nutritional value. Remember, as with any diet, there are ways to make a vegetarian diet healthy and turn it into a diet disaster.

Pros: You have options when it comes to going vegetarian.

You can determine the type of vegetarian eating plan that will work best for you. Some people cut meat, fish, and poultry from their diet, but eat eggs and dairy products. Others only allow eggs or only dairy products. Some occasionally contain seafood. A vegan diet eliminates all foods that come from animals, even things like honey.

Downside: You may be nutritionally deficient.

Some essential nutrients such as vitamins B12 and D, calcium and iron are not found in many plant foods. Vegetarian diets can provide these nutrients as long as food intake is properly planned, but supplementation is sometimes required. The main sources of these nutrients for vegetarians include:

  • Vitamin B12: Found in animal products such as eggs and milk (as well as meat, fish and poultry). Also found in some fortified grains, nutritional yeast, meat substitutes, and soy milk.
  • Vitamin D: In addition to eggs and fish, it is also found in fortified vegetable milk and mushrooms. Vitamin D is also obtained from exposure to the sun.
  • Calcium: In addition to dairy products, calcium is found in fortified plant-based milk, grains, juice, tofu, kale, kale, broccoli, beans, and almonds.
  • Iron: You can get iron from eggs, but also fortified grains, soy, spinach, Swiss chard, and beans. Combine iron-rich foods with vitamin C-rich foods like citrus fruits, peppers, or tomatoes to increase your intake.

Starting a vegetarian diet can be difficult when shopping for groceries, dining out, and dining in social settings. Over time this will get easier, but will require some work. Read the product labels and familiarize yourself with common animal ingredients like casein, whey, and gelatin. In restaurants, remember that meatless meals can be made with dairy or other animal products such as beef or chicken broth. So ask questions to make a choice that is right for you. If you’re eating at home, it’s best to bring a vegetarian dish that anyone can enjoy.

If you are committed to a vegetarian lifestyle, a registered dietitian can provide helpful tips to better meet your nutritional needs.


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Whole Grains Health

Falling for weight loss myths



I’m here to warn you about 5 fat loss myths that most people fall for. This may sound like soapbox talk and we apologize, but trust us when we say this is a message that needs to be spread.

Your fat loss depends on it.

Don’t waste time on these:

Myth: Diet pills help with fat loss

It’s so tempting! The commercials make compelling claims about the power of diet pills, but don’t fall for them. The “magic pill” has yet to be discovered (it was discovered – exercise. It just doesn’t come in pill form). Diet pills are more likely to damage your health and burn your wallet than you lose weight.

Don’t take a pill – instead, burn calories with exercise.

Myth: You should starve to lose fat

Trying to lose weight by starving is not only ineffective but also dangerous. It may seem like a severe calorie restriction would result in the fastest weight loss, but your body is complex and doing so disrupts your metabolism and slows down your results.

Don’t starve yourself – instead, eat healthy, small meals throughout the day.

Myth: Lots of crunches will straighten your abs

We all want our midsection to look toned while walking on the beach, but excessive crunches aren’t the solution for tight abs. To achieve a slim look, you need to focus on burning off the layer of fat that covers your abs.

Don’t be obsessed with crunches – focus on burning fat instead.

Myth: Eat Packaged Diet Foods For Quick Results

It is amazing to see what foods are packaged as “diet” or “weight loss” aids. In most cases, these products contain refined sugars and other artificial ingredients that your body doesn’t need.

Don’t eat packaged diet foods – stick to nutritious whole foods instead.

Myth: You have to avoid carbohydrates to lose fat

Carbohydrates get a bad rap, which is unfortunate because you can (and should) eat carbohydrates while you are losing weight. The key is to stick with whole grains, oatmeal, and brown rice while avoiding processed and refined flours and sugars.

Don’t go without all carbohydrates – stick with healthy carbohydrates instead.

Fred Sassani

Now that you know what not to do to look your best this summer, it’s time to go over your beach-ready game plan.

Here’s what you need to know in 3 easy steps:

First: cut out the trash

The best way to do this is to start cleaning your kitchen. Avoid sugary, processed, and high-fat foods. Once the rubbish is cleared away, don’t buy anything more. Remember, your beach-ready abs depend on what you eat – don’t eat trash.

Second: focus on whole foods

Replace the junk food in your life with a lot of the following: cooked and raw vegetables, fresh fruits, whole grains, moderate amounts of seeds and nuts, lean meats, and low-fat dairy products. Clean eating is that easy.

Third, start an exercise program with a fitness professional

This is the most obvious step. When you’re ready to get into tip-top shape, find a fitness professional who can help you along the way by creating a simple, step-by-step program. Invest in your health and watch the rest of your life change too.

Fred Sassani is the founder of Bodies By Design, a nationally certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist. For comments or questions, you can reach Fred at or visit

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Whole Grains Health

How to Tell if Your Baby is Ready to Stop Drinking Formula – Cleveland Clinic



Make the formula. Feed your sweetie. Wash, rinse, repeat. For parents of babies who drink infant formula, you did this dance several times a day (and night) for what felt like an eternity. But could the end finally be in sight? When do babies stop drinking milk?

The Cleveland Clinic is a not-for-profit academic medical center. Advertising on our website helps support our mission. We do not endorse non-Cleveland Clinic products or services. politics

“A healthy baby should drink breast milk or formula up to the age of 1 year. Formulas are fortified with the vitamins and iron they need, ”says pediatrician Radhai Prabhakaran, MD. “In general, babies aged 9 months to 1 year should have at least 24 ounces per day. But once your baby is on a full diet of nutritious solid foods, switch to cow’s milk, which contains protein and vitamin D. “

Indicates your baby is ready to wean the formula

Whether babies are ready to board the milk express depends on their taste for table food. “Some babies get used to a mostly solid diet early (between 9 and 12 months) because they like it and they are okay with it. If you have a nutritionally balanced diet, it is okay to wean your baby from infant formula before the age of one. “

A healthy solid food diet for a baby should include:

  • Fruit.
  • Grains.
  • Protein from meat, eggs, or boiled beans.
  • Vegetables.

“Gradually reduce the amount of formula you drink as you eat more. Keep offering it to drink because sometimes babies are not full after eating solid foods, ”notes Dr. Prabhakaran. “But wait until they are 1 year old to introduce cow’s milk, even if they wean earlier.”

Signs your baby is NOT ready to wean the formula

Your baby should continue feeding if:

  • You’re not gaining weight.
  • Were born prematurely.
  • Have not established a balanced solid diet.
  • You need to proceed with the formula based on your doctor’s recommendation. (For example, if your baby has food allergies or has trouble digesting food or absorbing nutrients.)

Health conditions that affect how long babies drink formula

Certain underlying health conditions can affect how long it takes your baby to drink formula. Babies may need to stay on the formula longer if they:

“And if your doctor has already told you that your baby may need to be on a special diet, talk to him or her before weaning your baby off the formula,” adds Dr. Prabhakaran added. “They can help you come up with a nutrition plan that will make the transition safer.”

How to wean your baby off formula

If your baby likes the taste of cow’s milk:

  1. Start giving them a 2 to 4 ounce serving of milk for every two or three servings of formula.
  2. For up to 10 days over the next week, increase the servings of milk as you decrease the servings of the formula.
  3. Stop giving milk as soon as you have drunk the milk without any problems.

If your baby prefers the taste of formula:

  1. Build the formula as usual. Do not add cow’s milk to the milk powder.
  2. Mix together 2 ounces of prepared formula and 2 ounces of cow’s milk so you have a 4-ounce drink for your baby.
  3. Feed your baby the mixture.
  4. Over the next week to 10 days, add more milk and less milk to the mixture until it is all cow’s milk.

Bottle or cup?

Get ready to say goodbye to the bottle. Dr. Prabhakaran says that drinking from a bottle is a no-go from the age of 1. “Bottle feeding can affect tooth growth and cause tooth decay.”

Instead, switch your little one to a swallow, straw, or regular cup at around 9 months of age. “When you’re feeling adventurous, wean her off the formula and the bottle at the same time.”

Does my baby still need milk when he wakes up at night?

Dr. Prabhakaran notes that most babies of this age do not need to eat when they wake up at night. “When babies have doubled their birth weight (which happens after about 4 to 6 months) and are eating solid foods regularly, they generally don’t need extra calories and can sleep through the night. So encourage her to go back to sleep. “

Babies of this age also have the most milk teeth, so drinking milk or formula at night can lead to dental problems. Night feeding can also make them too full to eat what they need during the day.

But as always there are exceptions. “If your baby is not gaining weight, your doctor can give you other advice. Breast-fed babies can also take a little longer because the breast milk is digested more quickly. “

When to apply the brakes when stopping the formula

Dr. Prabhakaran says the transition to cow’s milk should be even slower once babies start drinking milk and experience:

  • Dramatic change in her bowel movements.
  • Abundance.

If these symptoms persist or worsen, speak to your baby’s pediatrician about a possible milk allergy. If necessary, your doctor can recommend safe milk alternatives for young children.

Signs that your baby may not tolerate cow’s milk include:

  • Constipation.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Rash.
  • Vomit.

What is the best milk for a 1 year old?

Experts consider whole cow milk to be the best milk for 1-year-olds after weaning. “The general rule is whole milk until they’re 2 years old, unless there are special circumstances,” says Dr. Prabhakaran.

Your doctor may recommend 2% milk instead if your baby:

  • Is difficult for her size.
  • Drink more than the recommended amount of milk (16 to 24 ounces per day or 2 to 3 cups).
  • Is blocked.

Milk alternatives for toddlers

Unsweetened soy milk is one of the best cow milk alternatives for toddlers because it has a similar protein content. But soy milk has fewer calories – which babies need to thrive – than whole milk. The calorie content of unsweetened rice milk is slightly higher, but it contains less protein and more added sugar.

The best way to make a decision, says Dr. Prabhakaran, is to look at your child’s overall diet. “There are so many milk alternatives and the diets of babies are very different. It’s impossible to have a blanket rule of what’s okay. Some children eat a lot of yogurt and cheese. Some babies are vegan. Talk to your baby’s doctor about the best alternative to help your child with certain deficiencies and general nutrition. “

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