It’s that time of year! It’s getting colder and people are travelling to work with a sore throat, watery eyes and the sniffles - ready to infect their fellow commuters and their hapless colleagues…
Some 34 million work days* were lost in 2016 due to minor illnesses such as coughs and colds! This has a significant impact on business as employees either stay at home or possibly worse - they come into work sick, perform poorly, and infect their colleagues. Not a great recipe for a thriving business.
Trying to stop germs spreading is key: keep the office clean, sneeze into a tissue, put your hand over your mouth when you cough... but not much use given that people can be contagious with the flu one day before symptoms manifest and up to five days after! So sooner or later the dreaded virus will make its way into the workplace.
Prevention is better than cure – strengthen your immune system with good nutrition
Many nutrients are essential to fortify our defences, maintain a strong immune system and resist infection. The ones to focus on include Vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, protein, anti-oxidants and foods that nourish the gut – because around 70% of our immune system is in the digestive tract.
These should be included in your staple diet, especially in winter, and most are easy to consume at work too.
Nuts and seeds e.g. sunflower seeds, cashews, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pine nuts - all sources of Vitamin E, zinc, selenium and protein
Green tea - contains the anti-oxidant EGCG (epigallocatechin)
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, pomegranates - contain antioxidant ellagic acid
Red peppers (cut into strips), kiwi fruit, oranges and lemons (squeeze half into mug of warm water) - contain Vitamin C
Tuna, eggs and mushrooms - sources of selenium
Carrots, sweet potato and peppers - high in beta-carotene and anti-oxidants
Plain yogurt with berries - the live bacteria helps prevent infection
Sauerkraut or kimchi - cabbage contains glutamine and these foods contain healthy live bacteria to nourish the gut
Chicken soup (homemade soup made with the bones) - contains minerals and glutamine. Add some ginger and garlic for their antibacterial properties
Eggs - provide a good source of protein and zinc
Chicken (ideally organic), turkey, fish, grass-fed meat, beans, pulses – all good forms of protein.
Be aware though that once a virus has taken hold, these foods won’t shorten the duration of a viral infection, but they can help lessen the symptoms or better still, prevent the infection altogether.
And finally, aim to decrease your consumption of sugary foods as much as possible during this cold season as even one teaspoon of sugar can greatly weaken the immune system.
For more information on Power Eating™ visit www.lindamunster.com
* According to the Office for National Statistics