Ugh, the very thought of getting sick annoys me…
I know that I’m supposed to be a loving husband, but my first instinct when it comes to a sick wife is to put her to bed, grab a can of Lysol and shake it furiously before throwing it like a grenade into the bedroom, then in classic “Looney Toons” fashion promptly applying sheet-rock over the door – effectively sealing her and her contaminated mucous away from civilization for 3-5 days. Sadly, my parents raised me with enough compassion and common sense to ignore most of my instincts. So like you, that means that I need to survive in a world of everyday people, public transportation and the hygiene-impaired.
Pathophobia, Bacillophobia, and Emetophobia all describe varying irrational fears of becoming ill, but the truth is, even the sanest of people try to avoid getting sick. But aside from getting your annual flu-shot, is there anything else to do to keep the *sniffles* and aches away? Well as a Registered Dietitian, I might be a little biased, but I’d like to think that a healthy diet and some manageable lifestyle choices can help too!
In this multi-part post, I want to take a look at all of the hype that we’re subjected to; the good, the bad, and the ugly. What’s true, and what’s not? What is worth the trouble and what’s a waste of your time and money. At a time of year when every news outlet is talking about the “worst flu season in years*,” it’s easy to overreact. Here’s some info to keep you grounded:
(*every year seems to be the worst in years…)
PART I – Vitamin C
Commercials for Mega-Doses of Vitamin C try to convince us that Vitamin C is a magic cure all for every gooey-nosed child and each delayed, recycled-air-filled flight. While adequate levels are a necessity in the body, the body of evidence supporting our need for massive amounts of this relatively common commodity is scarce at best. At upwards of a 1000-mg per dose, and a recommended dosage of 2-3 times per day, it’s easy to get carried away with over-the-counter products. Research doesn’t even suggest that we can absorb that much at once. In fact, our bodies become saturated with the compound at quantities around 120-mg per day. AND, if you’re dosing yourself up with amounts exceeding the tolerable upper limit of 2000-mg, you might find yourself suffering from nausea, stomach cramping, or diarrhea.
So how much do we really need? Well…about 90-mg for Men, 75-mg for Women, and if you’re a smoker, you need a smidgen more, or 120-mg per day. It may not seem like much, but part of the efficiency of our body is that we have the ability to recycle used-up Vitamin C to keep up with the demands of the body. Nearly everything above and beyond that is lost to the municipal water supply. It’s that simple. Think about it like having a car with a small hole in the gas tank – why fill the tank up to the brim if you are only going to waste what you don’t use? For most people we can get enough Vitamin C through our foods…
Nearly every summertime fruit and vegetable contains high levels of Vitamin C. In the winter months, fresh fruits and vegetables can be hard to come by, but there are still a few options available at the local grocery store. Here are some fruits and vegetables that are still in season during the months of December to February:
Vegetables (Fresh or Frozen) Fruits (Fresh or Frozen)
Broccoli (1/2 cup) – 50.6 mg Apple (1 medium) – 8.4mg
Brussels Sprouts (1/2 cup) – 48.35mg Banana (1 medium) – 10.3mg
Cauliflower (1/2 cup) – 27.5mg Grapefruit (1/2 large) – 79.1mg
Kale (1/2 cup) – 26.65mg Kiwi (1 each) – 64mg
Potato (1 medium) – 16.6mg Orange (1 medium) – 69.7mg
Sweet Potato (1 medium) – 22.3mg Strawberry (1/2 cup) – 42.35mg
Tomato (1 medium) – 15.6mg
If you are afraid of getting sick, don’t try to cut corners with tablets and chews. If you’re already sick, chances are bed-rest and fluids may be your best hope. Nothing can compete with a long term healthy lifestyle. Choose to eat right and take care of your body for the plethora of benefits it provides – including getting sick less often. IF you’re diet doesn’t quite stack up, add a simple multivitamin into your daily regimen, and start with 1-2 servings of your favorite fruits and veggies, the rest of the changes will come with time.