“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  One of my favorite quotes from Benjamin Franklin, and good advice for cold & flu season!   According to the American College of Sports Medicine, people who exercise at a moderate intensity about five days a week report fewer instances of colds than those who prefer the view from their couch.  So keep those workouts steady and read on for more “ounces of prevention” from Oxygen Magazine

Eating more antioxidant-rich foods can help fend off the disease-causing effects of free-radical production.  Fill your grocery cart with the following SUPER FOODS to keep colds at bay this season:

CHIA SEEDS are a plant-based source of omega-3 fatty acids, which help maintain the fluidity of cell membranes to keep the good nutrients in, while harmful substances are sent packing.

LEAN BEEF is an excellent source of zinc, an essential trace element that helps create T-lymphocytes, which battle harmful cells that work to suppress the immune system.

SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS contain anti-viral poly-saccharides that help regulate the immune system by activating cells called macrophages, which fight off nasty invaders.

SWISS CHARD is loaded with vitamins C, E, beta-carotene and the mineral zinc.  All work together as antioxidants to strengthen the immune system by eliminating oxidative stress that causes damage to cells.

TANGERINES are a great source of the common cold-fighter vitamin C.  Just one medium fruit provides about 40 percent of your day’s worth.

WHEY PROTEIN increases the production of glutathione, an antioxidant naturally produced by your body that plays a role in boosting the immune system.

Now that your cart is loaded with Super Foods (anyone else hum the Superman theme every time they read “super foods”? No?  Just me, then….) let’s move on to IMMUNITY BOOSTERS:

Avoid Gym Germs ~ Bring your own antibacterial spray or wipes and clean off equipment before you use it.  Keep any cuts or abrasions covered, bring your own water instead of filling up at the fountain, and don’t forget to WASH YOUR HANDS!  (this applies to supermarkets, schools, and pretty much anywhere you go during cold & flu season!!)

Meditate ~ Studies suggest that meditation can reduce acute respiratory infections by 40 to 50 percent!!

Maintain a Healthy Weight ~ Fat cells trigger the release of pro-inflammation chemicals in the body, which can lead to chronic inflammation and a damaged immune system.  Being underweight can weaken the body and immune system, leading to infection and less effective workouts.  Be sure to maintain a reasonable, healthy weight by eating regular, balanced meals.

Don’t Live in a Bubble ~ Being exposed to germs can actually have a positive effect by encouraging the immune system to work harder, so don’t be afraid to go out – even when you know cold & flu germs are likely rampant – just remember to WASH YOUR HANDS!! (are you sensing a theme here?)

Get Your Nutrients ~ Keep your health in check by making sure you’re eating a well-balanced diet that provides a full range of nutrients, especially immunity boosters like selenium, zinc, and vitamins A, B2, B6, C, D, and E.