Nutrition during sick season

Studies show that “low temperatures can increase the likelihood of getting sick.” As the holiday season approaches, correct nutrition can help students combat sickness and enjoy the holiday season to the fullest.

Now is the time to see if an apple a day can keep the doctor away! Image by Joshua Sperry and Mali Maeder

As the last week of the semester approaches, homes and holidays begin to replace libraries and due dates. Yet despite these calendar changes, one thing remains: viruses.

Doctor Winston D. Rajendram, a Primary Care physician at Northwestern Medicine , stated that “as the temperature starts to drop, we have more viruses in the environment…” Additionally, Northwestern Medicine has claimed that “the body is not as effective at fighting a virus when cold air enters the nose and upper airways, so viruses such as the common cold, the flu and COVID-19 often spread more easily in the winter.” 

With this in mind, and as temperatures continue to decrease in Utah, students need to be extra careful to avoid spreading illness and getting themselves sick.

Correct nutrition can be an effective asset for students striving to stay healthy. Today Health & Wellness shared that “while the best thing you can do to prevent illness is to wash your hands and get your annual flu shot, some foods can help to boost your health and immunity.” Listed below are professional opinions regarding some of these foods:

  • Ginger. Ginger has many medicinal uses, explained the Murfreesboro Medical Clinic. Ginger can be used for the “treatment of sore throat[s],” may provide “pain relief as an anti-inflammatory,” and also “boosts immunity to help fight infection.” 
  • Probiotics. In 2013, the Mayo Clinic stated that “taking probiotics regularly can lower your chances of getting a cold. And, if you do catch a cold, probiotics may help reduce the severity of your symptoms and shorten how long they last.” The Healthline explained that fermented foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kimchi, miso, kombucha, pickles, traditional buttermilk, some cheeses, and others are great sources of probiotics. 
  • Antioxidants. Another remedy proven to help fight illnesses is antioxidants. Hillcrest Hospital stated that “antioxidants are capable of stabilizing, or deactivating, free radicals before they attack cells making you better able to ward off colds, flu, and other infections.” Thankfully, foods such as “[s]pices, herbs, and supplements include the most antioxidant-rich products… [with] berries, fruits, nuts, chocolate, [and] vegetables…” also providing “high antioxidant values,” explained Monica H. Carlson and others in the Nutrition Journal.

“What I eat around this time of year seems to matter more than any other time,” said Stephanie Berry, a UVU sophomore majoring in Public Health. Not many people want to spend their holiday season sick in bed. As the semester ends and students go home, implementing ginger, probiotics, and antioxidants into their daily diets can help keep them healthy and the holidays happy.

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