Time to start consuming flu-buster foods

This time of year movie theaters, supermarkets, offices and schools are filled with the cacophonous chorus of people with colds and the flu. Those wet sneezes, deep respiratory "horking" sounds and barking coughs seem more canine than human, and make you want to run to the hills and hibernate till spring.

Anti-bacterial wipes, air kisses and a moratorium on hand-shaking are a good first-line of defense, but not enough. These bugs are hearty and once they attack, the antibiotic arsenals are about as helpful against them as a pair of Jimmy Choo stilettos in an ice storm. That is why you must stop the pandemic in its tracks and prevent catching it by turning to food, drink and supplements to boost your weapons of immunity during flu season.

It is important to crank up your consumption of foods packed with vitamins C, D and E. Oranges, pineapple and kiwi are high in vitamin C, but if citruses are too acidic for your liking, try broccoli, bell peppers and cabbage. Leafy greens give you a shot of vitamin D, while sunflower seeds and almonds are loaded with immune and energy boosting vitamin E.

Still one of the best heavy-hitters against disease is garlic, bursting with phytochemicals and nutrients including beta-carotene, oleanolic acid, vitamins B and C, zinc and selenium.

Also, the organic strains tout an extra boost of sulphur. Garlic is a first cousin to the onion, and has been part of the healthful and fortifying diet of ancient peoples, including the Israelites in Egypt and the Greek and Roman soldiers. Garlic has been revered throughout history for its antimicrobial (more recently anti-viral) properties. An added boon is garlic's odiferous power to ward off sneezers, coughers, werewolves and vampires. A recent British report championed garlic as a common cold buster — so knock yourself out and dig into a thick chunk of garlic toast.

Pomegranates, blueberries and green tea are dual-purpose weapons protecting cells from oxidation, as well as boosting your immune system from the flu and colds. Make a powerhouse brew by tossing a chunk of ginger, a splash of lemon juice, some raw organic honey and a smashed garlic clove into your pot of green tea. While before going to sleep, steep a pot of chamomile tea — a soporific drink that'll give you some healing zzz's.

Also, if you're feeling a little phlegmy, try laying off the dairy. Immunology gurus claim that when another animal's protein is consumed, the immune system responds to this foreign body by creating a flow of mucus to protect the delicate nasal and throat linings. If you must have dairy-esque drinks, simply substitute rice or almond beverages for moo-milk.

Mushrooms are the new super fungus, especially the Brazilian native, Agaricus Blaxel Murrill, aka "The Mushroom of God," which has been found to be a disease buster around the world. Other wild varieties that boost immune functions are the Shiitake, which is known for building resistance against viruses; the Maitake packed with vitamins B-2, C, D, Niacin, Magnesium, Potassium and beta-16 glucan, a natural immune system stimulant; the Reishi is anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant and anti-viral; and Cordyceps Oglossoides, like many of its siblings contain complex sugars and other nutrients to bolster the immune system.



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