Feeling congested? Achey? Warding off chills?
You’re not alone. Currently, the United States is experiencing the most widespread outbreak of influenza on record and, so far at least, there’s little sign of it letting up anytime soon.
As pharmacies across the country (and the CSRA) are struggling to keep up with public demand for flu medications, it’s never a bad time to start thinking preventively. Andy Yurechko, a registered dietitian with Augusta University Health, has some useful tips to fight off the flu from the inside out. The key, he said, is loading up on antioxidants.
“You can always count on fruits and vegetables to fight diseases, including the flu,” Yurechko said. “Berries are the antioxidant all-stars when it comes to fruit.”
Antioxidants help to reduce harmful free radicals, Yurechko explained. Free radicals is a term used to describe atoms or groups of atoms with unpaired electrons that sometimes form when oxygen interacts with certain molecules in the body. Left unchecked, these free radicals can cause damage to important cellular components, potentially leading to cell death. These free radicals can also sometimes (but not always) lead to catching the flu.
The key, Yurechko said, is to maintain a varied diet of fruits and vegetables, but ultimately, to focus on antioxidant consumption.
“Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, you name it—they all have great amounts of antioxidants,” he said.
Vegetables are also a great source of antioxidants, and provide the body with a number of vitamins and minerals, all at a low calorie count (excluding, perhaps, starchy vegetables such as potatoes or sweet potatoes).
Ultimately, Yurechko said, the easiest way to fight the flu is to never get it in the first place. So, when the snow dies down, and you feel an itch in your throat, take a pass on the bread and milk and try grabbing some blueberries instead.