January Highlight: Variety for Health
We just finished the season of giving and feasting and joy. So what comes next? Why, it’s the season of illness and snot, of course! When you browse social media or listen to people around the water cooler, you’ll hear all sort of interesting ideas, recommendations, and home remedies to help you feel better fast. Some are legit, some aren’t. Some might work for one person while being completely useless for others. However, through this time of congestion and hacking try to remember that if there was a magical cure for the January crud, the secret would be out by now. There may be no magic pill, but there are things you can do when the sniffles hit:
Eating a wide variety of foods during the onset and duration of cold or flu is a good idea. There are a variety of nutrients, as well as physiological processes, involved in immunity, so making sure you are getting a good variety will help. Restricting your diet during times of acute illness is a bad idea; aside from needing variety, overall calorie and protein needs will increase with many symptoms of illness, including fever and labored breathing.
Scientific evidence is very mixed about how well vitamins and supplements actually work for illness prevention. Vitamin C and Zinc, for instance, are commonly found nutrients in supplements for cold prevention. The idea that Vitamin C helps colds stems from its role in immunity and the fact that it is 100% a sure thing that if you are deficient in Vitamin C you will get better faster if you have some, thus bringing yourself back up to baseline. However, getting more and more of a good thing doesn’t always equal great. Our bodies have a cap for water soluble vitamins such as Vitamin C, and when we reach that cap excess nutrients are flushed out of the system, offering no benefit. Some studies show that high doses of Zinc may help reduction in length of a cold by 24 hours if taken right at the initial onset. Other studies show no benefit at all.
This is just another example of how balance and moderation help to maintain a healthy body. Bottom line: eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, high-quality proteins, and grains for good overall nutrient quality. Wash your hands often and keep surfaces clean and disinfected. And, of course, make sure to get plenty of rest and clear fluids.
Lastly, the best advice I can give is to advise you NOT to give amateur medical advice. You may have read all about it on WebMD or even had a personal experience you want to share, but your unprofessional health advise may be harmful to others. For instance, you may think that eating an orange at the onset of a cold helps you feel better faster, but for someone with kidney failure who hasn’t yet started dialysis, oranges could cause a serious reaction leading to hospitalization. Eating grapefruit may seem like another good way to get that vitamin C, but that fruit can decrease the effectiveness of certain thyroid medications. The best medical advice to give is NONE. Do what is appropriate for you and let others do the same.
And if after a few days you or your loved one are still feeling under the weather, see a trained medical professional who can tell you what is going on inside and get you back on the road to recovery and good health.