by Sue Gilbert, M.S., Nutritionist
Foods that stimulate the immune system
Yogurt: Prevents colds and reduces hay fever symptoms. Must contain live cultures of lactobacillus bulgarius or bifidobacteria.
Garlic: Increases immune system cell potency.
Fruits and vegetables: Go for those high in beta-carotene (carrots, cantaloupe, spinach, broccoli, sweet potatoes, apricots, and pumpkin) and vitamin C (citrus fruits, broccoli, melon, red peppers and strawberries).
Zinc: Helps wounds heal more quickly. Eat oysters, lean beef, port, turkey, or lamb for zinc. Brown rice, salmon, and yogurt also contain zinc.
Foods for colds, flu and hay fever:
Chicken soup: Helps move mucous.
Hot and spicy food: Acts like an expectorant to thin out secretions of colds, allergies or asthma.
Garlic: Helps kill viruses and bacteria.
Liquids: Keeps mucous membranes hydrated and healthy.
Foods for constipation:
Fiber: Add whole grain foods (especially cereal bran), pears, dried fruit, berries, peas and cooked dry beans. Try honey bran muffins with raisins or prune bits.
Fruit juice: Cut back on apple, pear and grape juice; the high sugar levels can be hard to digest.
Prunes: Try a glass of room-temperature prune juice on an empty stomach early in the morning.
Fluids: Liquids are key.
Foods for diarrhea:
Starchy, bland foods: Try bananas, rice, applesauce and toast (BRAT). Small, frequent meals are best. Avoid bulky or gaseous foods.
Fluids: Avoid milk (especially if lactose intolerant) and sugary drinks. Try thick potato soup or a thin rice cereal (porridge).
Yogurt: Helps prevent and kill diarrhea-causing bacteria.
Foods for nausea:
Gingersnaps, ginger ale, and ginger tea may help alleviate mild nausea, without any side affects. Drink clear fluids slowly, avoiding juices, especially citrus. Try diluted sports drinks or broth.