When you hear, “winter brings the cold,” you’re probably hoping for cold weather and not head cold. Whether it keeps you from school, work, or other fun activities, few things put a damper on the season quicker than calling in sick with a cold or flu. How can you enjoy cooler weather without the cold?
Fight the Flu with Healthy Habits
Your immune system protects your body against illnesses like colds and flu. By supporting your immune system, you can keep yourself and your family healthy this season. Getting adequate sleep, managing stress levels, staying hydrated, and focusing on proper nutrition are healthy habits to focus on to keep your immune system strong. There are a variety of immune-boosting nutrients to focus on with your diet, many of which are found in a glass of milk.
Milk: Nature’s Wellness Drink
While the store shelves are laden with immune-boosting medicines and pills, milk naturally contains the nutrients your body needs for a strong immune system and is nature’s personal wellness drink. Milk helps you fight the flu in a variety of ways because it is:
Packed with protein
When it comes to protein, not all foods are created equal. Real milk is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids that your body needs from your diet. In contrast, most plant-based proteins are incomplete proteins. The protein found in milk helps build and repair muscle tissue and is the building block of all cells in the body—including immune cells and immune-signaling molecules.
Rich in immune-boosting nutrients
Beyond the protein content, milk also contains 12 additional essential nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin D, zinc, and selenium which are key immune-boosting nutrients. Milk is the top food source of Vitamin D in the diet and research has also shown that milk and milk products are the least expensive dietary source of vitamin D as well. At just about 25 cents per 8-ounce glass, no other beverage packs the nutrition power of milk’s 13 essential nutrients for the dollar.
Have tummy troubles with milk? There are many lactose-free milk options on the market–it’s real milk with all the same immune-boosting nutrients, just without the lactose.
A healthy hydrator
Another component in protecting yourself during cold and flu season is staying hydrated. As the temperature drops, people tend to focus less on hydration which can weaken your immune system and put you at risk of getting sick. While all beverages and many foods count towards your daily hydration, the water content and naturally occurring electrolytes found in milk have been shown to hydrate you better and for longer periods than other beverage options.
Fight the Flu
Including a glass of milk at breakfast, blending yogurt into a smoothie, or sprinkling some cheese onto a warm winter bowl are a few ways to get the nutrients you need to support your immune system and fight the flu this season!
Lauren Twigge is a Dallas-based registered and licensed Dietitian with a Master’s degree in Clinical Nutrition and a bachelor’s degree in Animal Science. Lauren was born and raised in a family of farmers located in central California and is an outspoken supporter of the agricultural industry. Growing up on a dairy and being raised around farming has given Lauren the passion to work at the crux of agriculture and human nutrition to fight misinformation and give consumers back their food confidence. Lauren is on Instagram @nutrition.at.its.roots and educates on a variety of health topics including the truth about the agricultural industry, where our food comes from, and the role that various agricultural products, like milk, can play in a healthy diet!