Fight flu fears with food

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    Junior Anne Zanola takes a calcium supplement and a multivitamin everyday, or at least whenever she remembers.”I kind of just take [vitamins] to be healthy in general,” she said.

    The erratic winter weather has left many students sniffling and sneezing, but an improved immune system may be as easy as an in-between class snack.

    Beside supplements and expensive health food, all-natural remedies can prevent against a trip to the health center.

    Fruits and vegetables grow in myriad colors not to entice your palate but to benefit your health, said Pamela Frable, assistant professor of nursing.

    The different colors of fruits and vegetables are representative of the variety of phytochemicals, a substance that benefits overall health including immunity, Frable said.

    Frable said phytochemicals are represented by their color so everyone should “eat from the rainbow” to ensure a balanced diet..

    Anne VanBeber, associate professor of nutrition, said foods vibrant and dense in color are also known to have high concentrations of antioxidants, substances that block free radical formation in the body that could weaken the immune system, she said.

    VanBeber said blueberries, pomegranates, strawberries, blackberries, cherries, broccoli, kale, spinach and tomatoes are just a few of the fruits and vegetables containing high levels of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals.

    When choosing foods, consumers should also look for dark yellow and orange vegetables, which are loaded in immunity-boosting pigments, VanBeber said.

    But you can’t rely on an occasional carrot to balance out your cookie-laden diet.

    VanBeber said everyone needs at least five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day to reap their full health benefits.

    “The average American consumes only three fruits and vegetables a day”, she said.

    Produce is not the only route to immunity as preventative properties can be found in cold-water fish and flax seeds, VanBeber said.

    Flax and fish such as salmon, halibut and mackerel are powerful sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are said to boost immunity through their metabolic pathway in the body, she said.

    “Omega-3 fats should be included in everyone’s diets,” she said.

    But Frable said taking vitamins and supplements will only benefit a person who eats healthy on a regular basis.

    Zanola, an entrepreneurial management major, said even though she tries to take care of herself, her eating habits are generally pretty bad.

    Most students do not eat regularly and a vitamin alone will not help their overall health, she said.

    So when your nose starts turning a little red and your forehead a bit warm, look no further than your refrigerator and taste the rainbow.

    “I definitely think there are foods that are immunity-boosting,” VanBeber said. “What’s important regarding fruits and vegetables is to eat a wide variety of color.