The temperature is dropping as autumn settles in. Observed in the change is an increase in the number of people coughing and sneezing by seasonal influenza.
This year poses especially high health risks since the country had an extremely hot summer. A wide summer-autumn gap in temperature weakens the immune system, making people more vulnerable to cold viruses and other germs, according to doctors.
The upcoming week unfortunately has another risk factor: the Chuseok holiday.
Chuseok is Korea’s biggest traditional holiday that, this year, runs from Saturday to Monday, during which time millions of people will hit the road to meet parents or relatives living in remote areas and hold celebrations for grain harvests.
Massive traffic jams will clog up highways, resulting in drivers and passengers becoming extremely stressed while stuck on the road. Long-lasting stress causes health problems. Many people suffer indigestion caused by heavy eating and drinking in family gatherings.
Ahead of Chuseok, The Korea Times conducted research and interviewed several doctors and nutritionists about vegetables, fruits, and other kinds of agricultural products with proven effects in preventing these troubles.
Experts said consuming vitamin-rich foods is helpful in preventing or enabling a quick recovery from colds. Several medical journals confirm that vitamin C and D are good as cold remedies.
Fruit usually contains more vitamins than other foods, especially jujube or red dates, nearly eight times richer when it comes to vitamin C than apples and peaches. Nutritionists suggest frequently drinking water boiled with jujube and ginger in it will help stop coughing and reduce phlegm.
“Ginger and jujube is the best harmony to fight colds,” said Chang Yoon-young, an Oriental medicine doctor. “Ginger is a body warmer that also helps reduce phlegm, coughing and sneezing. Vitamin C from jujube helps the quick recovery of the immune system, making your body capable of recovering from colds on its own.”
Among other vitamin-rich fruits are tangerines, tomatoes, persimmons, pears, and kiwifruit. Kiwis contains twice as much vitamin C as oranges, eight times more vitamin E than apples and as much fiber as a banana. Chang said frequent consumption of hot water with pear will lead to early recovery from sore throats. Among vitamin-rich vegetables are spinach, cabbage and broccoli.
Constant stress causes hormone imbalances in your body which leads to various health issues such as depression, over-sensitiveness, chronic exhaustion, headaches, indigestion and problems sleeping.
Experts say stress depletes vitamin B levels and when you are stressed, consuming more vitamin B, especially B5 and B6, is necessary to stay healthy.
“Stress weakens your body’s self-defense system. The best solution should be reducing stress. Consuming foods rich in vitamin B would make it easier and quicker,” said doctor Lee Si-hyung.
He said foods with high amount of vitamin B5 and B6 include mushrooms, broccoli, eggs, sunflower seeds, and pistachios nuts. Pistachios contain more vitamin B6 than the amount found in three slices of watermelon, experts say.
The best way to get your digestive system back on track is skipping one or two meals and leaving stomach with nothing to work with, health experts advise.
Slowly sipping warm water may sooth indigestion pain, they said, adding having water with boiled Japanese apricot in it will lead to a quick recovery. The sour taste of the fruit facilitates the release of gastric fluid in the stomach.
Fluid from pear and radish also helps cure indigestion. Drinking warm water mixed with fluid from ginger is also helpful, they said, since gingery elements get body warm and help boost health of digestive organs.