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Nutrition for Cold & Flu Season: Building Your Immune System

From the Show: Train Your Body
Summary: While there is no way to cure the common cold or the flu, healthy eating during cold and flu season can help you avoid getting sick.
Air Date: 1/20/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Felicia Stoler, MD
felicia stoler close upDr. Felicia Stoler is a registered dietitian, exercise physiologist and expert consultant in disease prevention, wellness and healthful living. She has a bachelors from Tulane University, a masters in applied physiology and nutrition from Columbia University and her doctorate in clinical nutrition from UMDNJ. Felicia serves on many local, state and national committees related to health and wellness. Felicia is a member of the American College of Sports Medicine and is a Fellow of the ACSM. Felicia is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and is on the House of Delegates.

Dr. Stoler hosted the second season of TLC's groundbreaking series, Honey, We're Killing the Kids!, which took aim at the unhealthy lifestyles of families, across the country, in an effort to motivate them to make positive changes. She is the author of Living Skinny in Fat Genes™: The Healthy Way to Lose Weight and Feel Great (Pegasus) which was featured in USA Weekend among the top “must have” books in 2011. She has been a contributor for and written several book chapters. Stoler authored the ACSM’s Current Comment on Childhood Obesity.

Felicia has been on many national and local television and radio programs across the U.S. She is one of the most sought-after nutrition/fitness experts for TV, radio, newspapers and magazines. Felicia is passionate about helping people live healthier lives – and practices what she preaches. She maintains a private practice and provides consulting and public speaking. Felicia is the mother of two children and step mom of one – living in NJ.
Nutrition for Cold & Flu Season: Building Your Immune System
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With cold and flu season at its peak, is there anything you can do nutritionally to build up your immune system and help it fight off sickness? That is the question posed by Dr. Felicia Stoler, and she is more than happy to help you answer it.

Dr. Stoler, who hosted the second season of TLC’s groundbreaking series, Honey, We’re Killing the Kids and serves on many local, state and national committees related to health and wellness, strongly believes that the foods you eat can directly contribute to your immune system’s strength.

According to Dr. Stoler, there are several things you can do nutritionally to build up your immune system and stave off sickness:

Eat a well-balanced diet. Having a little protein with every meal helps boost immunity. Also, eat colorful fruits and vegetables to gain essential vitamins and minerals.

Including more foods with probiotics (like yogurt) will also help establish beneficial bacteria, or micro flora, in your small intestine that serves as the first line of defense against germs. Dr. Stoler believes taking probiotics should be something you do year-round, not just during cold and flu season, in order to maintain optimal gastrointestinal health.

Think vitamin C. Have more citrus fruits in your diet, such as oranges, clementines, tangerines, and grapefruits. These fruits are wonderful because they have lots of fluids and are very hydrating. At the same time, they are packed full of vitamin C, which is a

Use elderberry syrup. Dr. Stoler loves using elderberry syrup called Sambucol, which helps enhance the immune system. It’s not cough medicine, just elderberry concentrated. Taking it with water or adding extra flavor by mixing it with club soda will make it a refreshing drink that’s beneficial to you.

Take more zinc. “Getting more of the mineral zinc is extremely important,” says Dr. Stoler. Oysters both raw and cooked can be a great source of zinc, as can multivitamins and specific supplements.

Include Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Eating these fatty acids in moderation can boost the immune system. Coldwater fish such as salmon are a great source of Omega-3s. If you don’t find yourself cooking fish often, opt for fish oil supplements instead.

If you are already feeling sick, Dr. Stoler recommends having chicken soup, also known as “Jewish penicillin,” or miso soup. When making soup, it’s a good idea to freeze leftovers in case you are too weak to make it later on. Many stores will also have powdered miso soup that only requires you to add water.

Finally, if you are suffering from stuffiness or have a runny nose, making sure you are taking adequate hydration. You can choose to have hot drinks like Theraflu and green tea, or cold drinks like a healthy smoothie packed with vitamins; the choice is entirely up to you, depending on which one you think will have a more soothing effect.

Getting sick every winter does not have to be an unavoidable curse; with the right nutrition and yearlong habits, you’ll have the power to boost your body’s immune system and fight off colds.

Alonso is a long-time health and wellness advocate who loves to write about it. His writing spans the scope of blogs, educational magazines, and books, both on and offline.