Sick Food: Eat Your Illness Away


Fight Bugs this Whey

A shot of whiskey might be one way to feel better, but whey protein is a much more effective immune-boosting cocktail. Whey is rich in an amino acid called cysteine, which converts to glutathione in the body. Glutathione is a potent antioxidant that fortifies cells against bacterial or viral infection.

For the highest concentration of protein, try something called powdered whey protein isolate, which is more pure—and more expensive—than concentrate. Fortify your morning smoothie with whey protein powder or try another source: yogurt. The clear liquid that forms on top of most cartons of yogurt is pure whey protein—so don't drain it off, just stir it back into the yogurt.


Tomato Trumps Chicken

To beat back a cold, you slurp chicken noodle soup. To avoid getting sick in the first place, ladle out some tomato. In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 10 subjects ate a tomato-rich diet

for three weeks, followed by a tomato-free diet for three more weeks. While subjects were on the tomato diet, their infection-fighting white blood cells sustained 38 percent less damage from free radicals—atoms in the body that damage and destabilize cells—than when they ate no tomato products. Researchers speculate that the lycopene in tomatoes acts as an antioxidant, helping white blood cells resist the damaging effects of free radicals.

Give Ma Nature a Taste of Her Own Medicine

Butterbur may sound like something that makes you sneeze. But the herbal supplement actually helps you fight allergies. Scottish researchers found that patients with grass and pollen allergies who popped 50 mg of the plant extract twice daily had 13 percent better nasal airflow than those who took a placebo.

Another study published in the British Medical Journal reported that butterbur treated seasonal allergies nearly as well as the prescription medication Zyrtec. It's effective against all symptoms of allergic rhinitis, including sneezing, itching, and conjunctivitis, says Andreas Schapowal, M.D., Ph.D., the author of the study.

Butterbur is believed to block leukotriene, a chemical that causes allergic reactions, while at the same time controlling eosinophils, the white blood cells that accumulate when allergic reactions take place, says Dr. Schapowal. What's more, there's no drowsy effect with butterbur. You can buy the supplement ($25 for 60 capsules) at most health food stores or at iherb.com.

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