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Sports Nutrition 101: Combat the Common Cold

Along with diet, lifestyle habits like sleeping 7-8 hours a night, exercising regularly, maintaining proper hydration and washing your hands regularly all help to prevent catching a cold. Here are five nutrient-packed foods to include in your diet to keep your immune system strong:

Red Bell Peppers: Red bell peppers are a rich source of Vitamin C, containing approximately two times the amount of an orange. Incorporate red bell peppers into snacks by dipping slices in hummus or guacamole. At meals include red bell peppers in a salad, stir-fry or make stuffed bell peppers.

Chicken Soup: The salty broth helps lessen cold symptoms by hydrating and stimulating nasal mucus clearance. Vegetables like carrots, onions, and celery often found in chicken soup provide additional vitamin and minerals to aid in recovery.

Almonds: Full of healthy omega-3 fats, vitamin E, magnesium, and manganese, almonds are a great snack or salad topping. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that helps protect the body against oxidative stress and just a 1-ounce serving of almonds provides 37% of the recommended daily intake. 

Yogurt: Probiotics or “live active cultures” found in yogurt and other naturally fermented foods help feed the digestive tract with healthy bacteria. A healthy digestive system increases immunity, as the majority of the immune system is located in the digestive tract. Greek yogurt is a great snack not only for the probiotic content, but also supplies muscle-building protein. 

Sweet potatoes: The skin is the largest organ in the body and plays a protective role in the immune system. Vitamin A aids in the production of connective tissue, which is an important component of skin. Sweet potatoes are full of beta-carotene, which the body converts to Vitamin A. Bake sweet potatoes whole or thinly slice and drizzle with olive oil and seasonings for homemade sweet potato fries.