Franklin & Marshall College Franklin & Marshall College

December 2010 Wellness Tip

Outsmarting Germs

Sometimes it seems no matter how many times we gargle with salt before bedtime or coat ourselves in antibacterial hand cleanser, now and again sickness hits. What more can we do?  Certain foods and drinks have a natural immunity boost, according to a recent Women’s Health article.  Here’s a brief run-down of a few tips from that article to help prevent those germs from taking hold. You can find the full article, "Boost Your Immunity with Food," at

(This information is brought to you courtesy of a fellow FPS, who found it helpful, and passed it along to me.  If you have a favorite wellness article that you feel would be beneficial to others, please feel free to contact me at .)

Tea Off Against Colds: 
Chamomile, according to researchers from London's Imperial College, is the one that'll help prevent sickness.  This herbal tea increases blood levels of polyphenols, which have been associated with increased antibacterial activity. As a bonus, chamomile tea also raises levels of glycine, a mild nerve relaxant and sedative.

Knock 'em Dead
Macophage, a white blood cell that roams the body, picks fights with bacteria, viruses, or any other intruders when activated by beta-glucans, a component of fiber foods. Oats are the best source, like the kind found in oatmeal. Steel-cut oats have double the amount found in the rolled, quick-cooking kind.

Dressing for Success:
 A recent study from Iowa State University found that without dietary fat, your body doesn't absorb some of the disease-fighting nutrients in vegetables. Instead of fat-free dressings for salad, perhaps choose dressings with healthy fats from olive or nut oils or try making your own. For an Italianate, try 2 or 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part balsamic vinegar; for something with an Asian influence, go 3 parts sesame oil to 1 part rice wine vinegar.

Fight Bugs this Whey:
 Whey is rich in an amino acid called cysteine, which converts to glutathione, a potent antioxidant that fortifies cells against bacterial or viral infection. Fortify a morning smoothie with whey protein powder or 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. Researchers speculate that the lycopene in tomatoes acts as an antioxidant, helping white blood cells resist the damaging effects of free radicals.

Feel the Burn: 
 Capsaicin — the compound that gives chili peppers their fire — can help stop sickness before it starts.  Capsaicin can produce more antibodies, and more antibodies may mean fewer colds and infections. Results of other studies suggest that eating food containing hot components such as capsaicin may improve immune status.  At the very least, a dash or two of hot sauce might help flush out some toxins.

Change Your Numbers Game: 
Losing weight not only reduces risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but also helps shape up the immune system. Researchers at Tufts University asked a slightly overweight group to cut 100 to 200 calories from their daily food intake. The result, in addition to weight loss and a drop in cholesterol counts? Participants boosted their immune system response to disease-causing microorganisms. Researchers aren't exactly sure why, but speculate that the benefit comes from a combination of effects. One thing is certain: Cutting 200 calories out of a daily diet is easy. At your next restaurant meal, ditch the baked potato with sour cream and order steamed vegetables instead.

Cindi Dinger, on behalf  of the Wellness Committee