goldenHow can you get your share of potent vitamins to build your defenses and reduce your risk of getting sick during the infamous cold and flu season? Powering up your pantry with antioxidant rich foods is a great place to start. While all vitamins have noteworthy benefits, vitamins A and C are among the best known antioxidants for supporting the immune system. Adding foods high in these particular vitamins can do much to help you build strong immunity.

Whole foods like pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, and carrots are easily available this time of year. Their rich yellow and orange hues mean they are teeming with carotenoids and vitamin A. The nutrients in these foods have the potential to enhance your immune response to infections. Carotenoids stimulate the production of special white blood cells, thus determining your overall immune status. Since white blood cells have the ability to attack bacteria, viruses, and even cancer cells, eating foods that enhance their performance is very good practice.

Citrus fruits are another seasonal food that can increase immune function. Not only are these fruits delicious, but oranges, tangerines, Satsumas, lemons, and grapefruit are very high in vitamin C. The vitamin C found in a fresh squeezed glass of citrus juice can be especially good for fighting bacteria, viruses, and infections. Vitamin C also improves the body’s ability to repair wounds; and it can act as an antihistamine, reducing inflammation brought on by cold and allergies. It has even been proven to reduce histamine levels, possibly shortening the duration of colds.

Inspire Health Tip: Help for your man

When you are eating your share of pumpkin this season, don’t forget about the powerful, prostate-protecting seeds. More than half of men age 50 or older suffer with problems related to an enlarged prostate. The phytosterols in pumpkin seeds are touted with the ability to help shrink an enlarged prostate. They do this by helping reduce the conversion of testosterone into dihydrotestosterone—a chemical associated with enlarged prostate. All that is needed is about 1 oz. of pumpkin seeds a few times per week. Mix the seeds in a trail mix for a tasty, healthy, healing snack.

Feed Your Soul: Fooducate App

Reading labels but still can’t figure out which peanut butter is the healthier option? Scan the barcode and Fooducate will grade the product (A, B+, B-, C, etc…), recommend healthier options, tell you the calories per serving, if the product is minimally processed, if there are controversial artificial sweeteners used, if it contains trans fat, and so much more. Available for iPhone, Android and online.

By Christina Leidenheimer, CPT, CHLC, CPI

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