With cold and flu season in full swing here in the northern hemisphere, everyone is looking for ways to steer clear of the flu bug. By adding a few simple foods to your diet, you just may be able to stay healthy this season as well as throughout the year.
According to researchers at Oregon State University, gut health can affect not only your ability to fight off the common cold or flu, but also autoimmune diseases, obesity, and even mental illness. You may not know this, but there are more immune cells in our intestines than anywhere else in our body. This means that boosting our gut health can have a huge impact on the rest of our health, and even our body composition.
So just how do we boost gut health? By eating what's known as probiotics and prebiotics. Probiotics are good for you bacteria and yeast commonly found in fermented foods. They help populate your gut with microorganisms that help your body function properly. Prebiotics are what's considered food for the microorganisms in our gut. It's dietary fiber which helps healthy gut flora flourish.
Probiotics can be found in foods such as yogurt, kefir (my favorite), sauerkraut, and kimchi while prebiotics can be found in foods such as bananas, asparagus, dandelion greens, leeks, onions, and garlic. A good strategy is to make sure we get plenty of both probiotics and prebiotics to make sure that our gut flora are well sustained. This will help keep us from getting that dreaded cold or flu that's going around, as well as help us heal anything that may be currently ailing us.
Oregon State University (2013, September 16). Gut microbes closely linked to proper immune function, other health issues. ScienceDaily.