The right foods can prevent you from getting sick and help you recover quicker if you do fall ill. Here’s how to build a strong immune system and help your body fight off the bad guys.
You got sneezed on in the subway. Coughed on in the coffee shop. Your colleagues keep coming to work when they should be calling in sick. And your kids are bringing home illnesses you never even heard of. How the heck are you supposed to stay healthy?
It might seem like seasonal illness is out of your control. And, yeah, sometimes, sick happens. But you have more power than you think.
Your immune system is an incredible thing. The bacteria in your gut is actually a powerful army willing to fight on your behalf, but only if you feed them properly. And if you do get sick, certain foods can help you recover quicker. What you eat today can determine whether or not you get sick tomorrow.
Here’s how to build a strong immune system and help your body fight off the bad guys.
The immune system is your best line of defense.
OK, gang, it’s time to layer on the armor and bolster our defenses. (And I’m not just talking about scarves and winter coats, though those are probably good to have around too.) To stay healthy, energetic and sick-day-free, we have to strengthen our immune systems.
Here’s how the immune system works: Our body’s battle for immunity begins in the mouth. Bet you didn’t know that your saliva contains powerful antimicrobials like lysozyme, alpha-amylase and lactoferrin.
Any germs that sneak past those will confront our stomach’s hydrochloric acid.
Then, should they survive, they’ll go up against the proteins and chemical compounds in our digestive system that break down bad bacteria.
Finally, our own personal good bacterial population goes to work. They prevent bad bacteria from entering our bloodstream or taking root in our small intestine and colon. Those good bacteria are called probiotics. Think of them as an army against illness.
Feed your bacteria army.
The GI tract comprises over 70 percent of the immune system. That’s home to our good gut bacteria, which fight off a whole lot of yucky stuff.
If you want those bacteria to work for you, you’ve got to feed ’em. They love to chow down on nutrient-dense, fiber-rich whole foods. But processed foods, fats and sugars? Not so much. That’s why a balanced whole-foods diet is your best insurance against all kinds of viruses and infections.
In other words, if your diet is lousy, you’ll get sick more often and stay sick for longer. Eating poorly while you’re sick will only make you sicker. Good nutrition, on the other hand, enables your body to deliver a swift roundhouse kick straight to those germy invaders.
Prebiotics and probiotics.
Want a ready-to-roll squadron of healthy bacteria? Here’s how to keep the soldiers well fed.
Prebiotics (aka bacteria food) help nourish our good microbial friends. Essentially, prebiotics are a form of semi-digestible fiber. You should get at least two to three servings of prebiotic-rich foods each day (more if you’re unhealthy and need extra support from your gut flora).
Some of the best whole-food sources of prebiotics are:
* Vegetables: asparagus, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks and onions
* Carbs: barley, beans, oats, quinoa, rye, wheat, potatoes and yams
* Fruits: apples, bananas, berries, citrus fruits, kiwifruit
* Fats: flaxseed and chia seeds
You can also take a prebiotic supplement. Just remember, supplements are exactly that — an addition to the real foods you’re eating, not a replacement for them.
Meanwhile, probiotics (the bacteria themselves) help us stay healthy and recover faster once we get sick.
If you’re healthy, aim for one to two servings of probiotic-rich foods each day (more if you are trying to prevent or alleviate a medical problem).
Some of the best whole-food sources of probiotics are:
* Dairy: yogurt, cheese and kefir with live and active cultures
* Fermented vegetables: pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi
* Fermented soy: miso, tempeh
* Miscellaneous: soy sauce, wine, kombucha
You can also take a probiotic supplement to give your healthy gut bacteria an extra helping hand — just check with your doctor first. Eating lots of prebiotics and probiotics will help you fight off viruses and bacterial infections. But even the healthiest diet can’t protect you from every invader. Sometimes we just get sick.
Tabitha Brown and Other Black Personalities Focus On Joy Despite Crisis
Happiness is an essential aspect of survival. For many Black influencers, promoting positivity among fans and followers, mainly during crises, is a must—that so-called reminder that there is still light at the end of the darkest tunnel.
Amid the ill effects of the present COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing debates regarding equality and racism, numerous Black celebrities and creators are offering the community a chance to laugh, reconnect, and heal. Tabitha Brown delights her audience with cooking expertise; Kerry Washington showcases yoga as a calming and reflective activity, and Rickey Thompson entrances followers with his dancing moves.
Brown and Her Cooking
The vegan actress provides both her Instagram and TikTok fans with motivational clips. She combines her southern cooking with inspirational narratives. She guides her millions of followers as she demonstrates how to cook a variety of dishes as she simultaneously calms her audience with her trademark expressions, including “’cause that’s our business” and “like so, like that.”
After her 2-year battle with chronic fatigue and pain, the actress turned to the web, posting motivational videos for fans. “I want to help people,” Brown shares in a recent interview. “I think my content has a responsibility to bring light every day, whether it’s in laughter, whether it’s in inspiration, whether it’s through food,” she adds.
Thompson and His Dancing Moves
Like Brown, Thompson has millions of followers on social media. He dazzles his fans with various dance clips coupled with relatable rants regarding relevant issues. His videos are bursts of color and gaiety, encouraging everyone to believe that things will soon be okay.
He shares that, after the terrible losses that he and his family encountered, he realized that he could use his voice to influence others. Nowadays, he provides his fans with comic relief through dancing, walking, and self-expression. “As a Black person, our whole journey is trying to keep all our emotions within because we’re supposed to be strong, we’re supposed to be these tough people,” Thompson explains. “But we’re also human… What’s important is letting other people know you’re not in this alone,” he continues.
Staying Positive amid Problems
Despite the current difficulties encountered by various Black and colored communities in the country, it is highly important to remain calm and steady. Laughter helps relieve the accumulated stress and pain brought on by the pandemic and increased racism, while motivational talks provide positive guidance on how to make the best of the situation.
Numerous Black influencers and personalities offer various stress relief options online, encouraging others in the community to hold on to each other, although virtually, as we all await the eventual cure to this present pandemic. “So that even if it’s for one minute, it’s an escape for whatever they have going on in life. They can laugh a little bit or cry if they need to, but they just feel like they have somebody at that moment,” Brown asserts.
Indeed, we may all be grappling with various issues at the moment, but hope must spring eternal as survival can only be possible for those who remain steadfast, strong, and happy.
How To Determine A Food-Friendly Wine
The language of wine can be romantic, mystifying, or nonsensical — sometimes all at once. Experts share their experience and research for some wines and winery in answering the question: “What makes a wine food-friendly?”. Some people are dependent on wine names and might seem self-evident, but frequently, they get deceived.
“Food-friendly” is a common description that should seem obvious, but what does it mean?
Most people would say that wine is meant to be consumed with food. However, we usually drink wines as cocktails, or on their own, without thinking about what we eat to match the wine mood. Sometimes, people also enjoy them as trophies, for the experience of tasting a rare, expensive wine. In these contexts, food doesn’t matter. Wine is the highlight.
The concept of a “food wine” became a derogatory — a wine that didn’t taste good on its own and needed food as a counterbalance for its flaws. That’s not what we mean today by describing a wine as “food-friendly.”
- Every good wine will be friendly with at least some food. A positively food-friendly wine plays nicely with a broad category of foods, from sweet to savory to spicy, from meat to fish to veggies.
“I’ve had A-plus perfect pairings, where every note in the wine and dish sync and amplify each other, but those are rare experiences, and I don’t think they are the point most of the time,” says Matt Stamp, a master sommelier who used to try to orchestrate such pairings at the French Laundry in Yountville, in Napa Valley.
- Along with Rosé, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Barbera are wines noted for their acidity and versatility with food. This can result in surprising pairings. Beef braised in Riesling is a traditional German dish, and pinot noir makes an exciting partner to sushi, roast chicken, pork, or grilled salmon.
- When in doubt at home or in a restaurant, look for these types of wines for challenging food pairings or find some bubbles, the second characteristic that defines food-friendly wines. Bubbles go with everything. The sparkling wine’s enthusiasm effectively cleanses your mouth and prepares you for the next bite of food or a sip of wine. Sparkling wines also manage to be refreshingly acidic. We do ourselves an offense by relegating champagne and other bubblies drinks, such as Italian prosecco or Spanish cava.
“Champagne can be had throughout a meal, even with the right steak,” says Nadine Brown, former sommelier at Charlie Palmer Steak in D.C. “Fried chicken and potato chips with grower champagne is hot right now,” Brown says, pointing to the ultimate combo of extravagant wine and poor vittles.
I usually don’t agree with the “drink the wine you like with the food you like” school of view because it can be lazy. But if you pay attention to the wines you drink and the foods you pair them with, you’ll develop your group of wine styles to draw on when wondering, “What on earth should I drink with this?”
And as Brown advises, “Stay curious.” You might find something unique and surprising.
Turn Your Extra Rice Into Something More
Rice is best paired with any of the viands you can think of, whether it’s vegetables or meat. It goes so well with anything. Without rice, sometimes, we feel unsatisfied; thus, we still feel hungry. However, you can turn rice into something you want it to be! Fried rice, for example, yet, it is not the basic ones; you can add something into it to make it more delicious and mouth-watering.
Depending on your position, leftover takeout rice can be the bane of your existence or a blessing. For most of us, it’s the latter. Extras such as these are the foundation for a superb reinvented supper, namely fried rice.
Fried rice is an excellent weeknight feed, whether you want to extemporize with what’s already in your kitchen or have a specific project. Here are some recipes from our archives, which are great as written and easy enough to achieve. They’re so great; you might find yourself ending up ordering more rice just to make them.
Fried rice with broccoli and mustard greens
A vegetable-loaded version uses a sharp technique that has you cook the ingredients in steps, which is especially helpful if you don’t have a wok or large skillet.
Better than takeout fried rice
Sometimes, there are similarities between what you might get if you ordered fried rice, but we prefer the freshness and crunch of homemade. The ginger and red pepper flakes are making it sound, too.
Sesame fried rice with spring vegetables and egg
Brown rice binds more nourishment into the stir-fry, and fried eggs mean you can mix in a runny yolk for an extra-luxurious texture.
Garlic fried rice (Chahan)
This is for garlic lovers; celebrate because you’ll fry a few cloves for this recipe. It calls for short-grain Japanese rice, so here’s an ideal recipe for making a cut in any sushi rice you may get.
Vegetable fried rice
This recipe helps you with extra brown rice. Other than that, it will also get you to reinvent those broccoli stems instead of throwing them away or doing the same recipe over and over again.
Quick ham-fried rice with lavender
This is clearly off the hidden path, but the floral flavor plays well with the pork, ginger, and raisins.
Spicy basil tofu fried rice
A stir-fry for one that recommends making a baked marinated tofu for extra flavor and thick texture. You can also swap in plain extra-firm tofu.
African soul fried rice.
Food writer and culinary historian Michael Twitty is the source of this vivid dish that includes traditional or indigenous ingredients to West and Central Africa.
Those are just some of the recipes you may use for converting your plain rice into something more tasty. Avoid food waste, get what you can consume. If we can’t avoid leftover foods, let’s not leave it. Let’s transform it.
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