I love New York, but it can be hard to appreciate the amazing allure of the city at this time of year when it’s cold, dreary, and just plain slushy. The subway echoes with the sounds of sniffling, coughing and sneezing, and the common cold seems to lurk around every corner. A cold, like the flu, is viral and therefore resistant to antibiotics. But unlike the flu, which is a much more serious concern, the common cold is usually pretty mild, lasting between 7 to 10 days. That said, it shouldn’t be trivialized because it is the leading cause of doctor’s visits, sick days, and can put a real damper on your quality of life.
Since we are still at the peak of the cold and flu season (I know, I know, will it never end?), it’s a perfect time to talk about ways to prevent the common cold from occurring in the first place.
#1. Get your zzzzz time. Back in April, the Bushwick Nutrition blog looked into sleep for weight control. Not surprisingly, sleep has even more benefits as people who do not get enough sleep (less than 7 hours), are 3 to 5 times more likely to develop a cold. This makes total sense since sleep is an important predictor of immunity. So make sure to put sleep as your number one priority during these cold months!
#2. Eat more fresh garlic. Garlic is a popular folk remedy but recent studies have shown that eating garlic can boost the number of T-cells in the bloodstream, which play a vital role in strengthening the immune system and fighting viruses like the common cold. Tip: Garlic must be fresh. as the active ingredient is destroyed within an hour or so after smashing. Compress, smash, or juice/blend the garlic to maximize benefits. Try Raquel’s, owner of Pitanga Juice, remedy of fresh garlic, raw honey, cayenne pepper, and lemon (see pic). Talk about a serious immune boost! Tip: For easier digestion, mix the above with a little aloe vera juice.
#3. Hydrate! Not only do liquids prevent dehydration, but hot liquids relieve nasal congestion, soothe inflammation in the nose and throat area, and keep the gut moving. You want to aid your immune system by helping it work better especially during these dry months, and water forms a part of every cell in the body! Try elderberry or herbal teas with honey and lime.
#4. Get your green on. Juicing or blending can be a great way to incorporate amazing greens like kale, bok choy, and arugula (to name a few) into your diet. They are naturally high in vitamins A and C that help keep your immune system strong, while also aiding with inflammation. Note: Taking large doses of vitamin C has NOT proven to help combat a cold. That said, it is beneficial to meet your daily needs – about 75 to 90mg a day (a little different than the 1000mg megadoses!).
#5. Keep your gut healthy with pro/prebiotic rich food sources. The gut plays a huge role in keeping your immune system strong. After all, 70% of immune cells are found in the gut! Therefore, eating foods like Greek yogurt, kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and sourdough bread, which all have “good bacteria”, as well as prebiotic food sources that feed the healthy bacteria, like whole grains, bananas, artichokes, onions and leeks, will only make you stronger.
#6. Mushrooms are the immune system cheerleaders. Mushrooms are antiviral and antibacterial. They also encourage your immune cells to multiply. Reishi mushrooms are particularly beneficial for respiratory conditions, so eat up!
#7. Work it out. Chronic stress suppresses the immune cells and exercise is a great de-stressor. By exercising regularly you are not only helping your heart, your metabolism and your digestion, but you are also helping your immune system do a better job! A study in the Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise showed that people who engaged in regular to moderate activity lowered their risk of flu by 33%! That said- if you are already feeling sick, skip the workout and save your energy.
How do you keep the common cold at bay?
Written by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD, CDN
Photographed by Pitanga Juice.
Edited by Tamara Cabrero & NYHRC Team
Thanksgiving is generally accepted as the “all-you-can-eat-holiday”. Research has shown that people eat up to 3,000 calories just at dinner. That means the average person eats around 4,500-5,000 calories on Turkey Day alone! This is a huge jump from our average recommended intake of 2,000 calories per day.
It would be unrealistic and unfair to expect you to avoid all the Thanksgiving goodies this delicious holiday has to offer. But don’t blow a years worth of hard work on just one day. Luckily, there are simple and tasty ways to have your cake and eat it, too!
One easy trick to avoid overeating is to modify your menu without sacrificing any of the flavors. I found a few amazing recipes that have been tweaked to reduce calories from sugar and fat, the main culprits during this, and most, holidays.
Recipe 1: Choose raw cranberry sauce, which is naturally high in antioxidants and low in added sugars. I am not going to lie, the raw cranberry is definitely more tart than canned cranberry sauce, but if you give it a chance you’ll find that it’s a delicious combination with succulent turkey.
- 1 cup of fresh cranberries
- 1 orange
- 1 tpsp of honey
- Orange zest
Directions: Soak 1 cup of cranberries with squeezed orange overnight. Blend ¾ of the cup with honey until smooth. Add the rest of the cranberries (sliced) and orange zest.
Recipe 2: Eat mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. Cauliflower is naturally low in calories, high in fiber, and has almost 100% of vitamin C in one small cup. Swapping out potatoes for cauliflower reduces the calories by more than half! Now that’s something to be thankful for! Recipe adapted from The Detoxinista.
- 2 medium-sized head of cauliflower, chopped into florets (about 3 pounds)
- 2 tbsp of olive oil
- 1 tbsp fresh chives, chopped
- 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
- Salt and pepper, to taste
Directions: Boil cauliflower for about 5 minutes, until fork tender. Drain the cauliflower and place in a blender. Make sure to drain well. Add other ingredients and puree until desired texture.
Recipe 3: Eat caramelized onion and mushroom gravy instead of giblet gravy, which is high in saturated fat and sodium and is not heart-friendly. Mushrooms are a great addition to any meal because they possess amazing anti-inflammatory properties and taste delicious! Recipe adapted from Fitness Magazine.
- 2 large onions (white or yellow)
- 1 cup of sliced button mushrooms
- 1 cup of low sodium, vegetarian or meat broth
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour
- 1 tsp of fresh rosemary or thyme
- Salt & pepper, to taste
Directions: Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally for 8-10 minutes until golden brown. Chill onions before blending. In a blender, puree all ingredients, except mushrooms, until smooth. Pour into a small saucepan. Bring just to a boil and add mushrooms. Lower heat to medium and cook for 5-8 minutes. Season to taste.
Recipe 4: Opt for pumpkin bread instead of cornbread. Pumpkin is naturally high in vitamin C, vitamin A, and a good source of fiber. It has great immune boosting qualities and is good for heart health. Recipe adapted from Clean Program Blog.
- 1 15oz can pumpkin, no added sugar or sodium
- 4 tablespoons melted coconut or canola oil
- 1 ¾ cups whole grain flour
- ¾ cup brown sugar (granules)
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 325. Mix dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Add the pumpkin, Agave nectar and vanilla. If you need to melt the coconut oil, microwave for 20 seconds or until softened. Pour melted oil into the mixture. Stir everything to fully combine. Pour into greased (with coconut oil) bread pan (5x9 inch) and cook for 30 minutes.
Want to learn more delicious recipe substitutions for the upcoming holidays? Be sure not to miss our Holiday Eating Survival Kit seminar on Monday, December 9th at our New York Health & Racquet Club 23rd street location.
Wishing you a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!
Written and photographed by Alanna Cabrero, MS, RD
Edited by TCabrarr
All around New York City, we see mushrooms. On our pizza, in our grocery stores, even in some urban gardens. Mushrooms are often mistaken for vegetables when, in actuality, they belong to the fungi rather than the plant kingdom. They are the fleshy, spore-bearing fruiting body of a fungus. Sounds tasty, right? Before you shy away from this delicious superfood, read all the reasons why you should make a point to include mushrooms in your diet.
1. Mushrooms boost immunity and fight cancer; they specifically suppress breast and prostate cancer cells.
2. Mushrooms are nutritional powerhouses. They are a good source of B-vitamins (riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and niacin), iron, selenium, and potassium, which improves heart health. Some mushroom varieties are even sources of vitamin D - the only source you’ll find in the produce aisle!
3. Mushrooms contain high amounts of beta-glucans, keeping your immune cells prepped against disease.
4. Mushrooms are naturally low in calories, low in carbohydrates, low in sodium and cholesterol free. They also have high water content (80-90%) and are high in fiber, which makes them a great diet food.
5. The best news about mushrooms, however, is that they contain high concentrations of a powerful micronutrient called ergothioneine, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Ergothioneine contributes to immune support and is released from the mushroom cells upon cooking.
6. Oh yeah, and did I mention mushrooms are delicious? They add a rich, earthy taste to every meal.
Just a few of the 250 edible varieties of mushrooms:
· White button mushrooms (of the Crimini mushroom family) contain more protein, potassium, copper selenium, and immune boosting benefits than their more exotic counterparts (I’m looking at you shiitake and maitake mushrooms). They represent 90% of the total mushrooms consumed in the United States!
· Maitake are best known for their cancer-fighting properties, specifically against leukemia, stomach, and bone cancers. In addition, the maitake mushroom has been used to lower blood pressure, lower blood lipids, and aid digestion by eliminating food stagnation. Raw maitake mushrooms are extremely rich in vitamin D – up to 940 international units (IU) per three-ounce serving!
· Morels contain protein, vitamin D (200 IU per three-ounce serving) and vitamin B that help the body maintain a healthy metabolism. They also have copper, selenium, and potassium.
· Oyster mushrooms are used to strengthen veins, relax tendons, and are rich in iron that helps build blood.
· Portabellas contain a wide variety of B complex vitamins. They’re also a great source of potassium – three ounces have more potassium than a banana! If barbecuing, expose the portabella to UV light. This will increase its vitamin D content up to 490 IU per three-ounce serving.
· Reishi mushrooms are particularly beneficial for individuals with asthma and other respiratory complaints.
How to Choose and When
Look for dry mushrooms with smooth caps, firm grills, and a fresh aroma. While usually available year-round, mushrooms are at their peak in fall and winter. Lucky for us though, morels are one of spring’s best produce!
Fresh? Dry? Canned?
To receive all the health benefits of mushrooms, fresh is definitely preferable to dried, while canned mushrooms usually have added sodium.
How to Store
Store unwashed mushrooms in a paper bag in the main compartment of your refrigerator (avoid the crisper drawer, it adds too much moisture) or cover a tray with a paper towel. Do not soak in water as they are very absorbent and their flavor and texture are easily altered. They absorb odors and flavors like a sponge so avoid placing next to pungent foods.
To Cook or Not to Cook?
Cooking releases Ergothioneine (the antioxidant mentioned above) and also removes agaritine, a compound that can be carcinogenic in extremely high doses. Not to mention most mushrooms are grown on manure. Need I say more?
Below are some recipes to try out ranging from simple to advanced. Remember, mushrooms make great side dishes, can be added to pasta or omelets, and are also great additions to a salad!
- Mushrooms On The Stove from The Kitchn
- Mushroom Bourguignon from Smitten Kitchen
- Cathy Erway’s Mushroom Soba and Miso-Braised Mustard Greens from Not Eating Out in NY
Originally posted on NYHRC Tumblr
Natural News. Mushrooms Cancer Food.
American Cancer Society. Shiitake Mushroom.
Agricultural Research Service. Researchers Study Benefits of White Button Mushrooms.
Fresh Mushrooms. All About Vitamin D.
Edited by TCabrarr
Photo courtesy of Edsel L