CHIEF’S CORNER: FIGHT THE FLU—LIKE FIREFIGHTERS DO

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High protein diet can help keep you healthy

By Fire Chief Sam DiGiovanna

February 1, 2018 (San Diego) -- The flu season is unusually severe this year, and California is one of the hardest-hit states, with more deaths reported weekly, some experts believe new infections may be peaking, flu activity will likely remain into April. 

Everyone is at risk. So what can we do to prevent catching it? Fight it like a firefighter!

Wash your hands often. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, ears or mouth. Get plenty of sleep—and exercise. Drink lots of non-sugary beverages, especially water. Stay home when you’re sick. Clean surfaces shared with others, such as keyboards, telephones, exercise equipment and TV remotes.

But there’s something you might be missing. Firefighters add a lot protein to their diet to help keep them healthy year round and during flu season. That’s because the antibodies you need to fight the flu are made of protein. Get more protein in your diet, and your body will have more resources to build antibodies.

Before your inner Atkins goes crazy telling you a quarter-pounder will help you fight the flu, remember there are plenty of non-meat sources of protein.

There’s no shortage of recipes on the internet to inspire you to incorporate high-protein foods. Here are a few fire station ideas:

Yogurt smoothies: Smoothies combine nutrient-rich fruits and veggies with yogurt for a perfect mix. Check out this recipe for a Banana Berry Smoothie from the National Volunteer Fire Council website.

Eggs: When the evils of saturated fat and cholesterol were dominating the headlines, eggs took a beating (pun intended). Today, thankfully, most dieticians recognize that eggs can be part of a healthy diet. If you have access to a smoker, try this recipe for Firefighter’s Smoked Hard-Boiled Eggs.

Quinoa: Pronounced keen-wa, this whole grain is rich in protein. You can serve it hot or cold, as a side dish or in a salad. Or try Chief Kevin Harris’ recipe for Quinoa Azteca, which incorporates corn, tomatoes and black beans.

Beans: “Yes, that magical ‘fruit’ that makes you toot!” They’re an excellent low-fat, non-meat protein source. With cooler weather, what better way to get your beans than cooking up a batch of firehouse chili? Read about the recipe that won their 2017 contest for America’s Best Firehouse Chili and earned Firefighter Jeremy Chauvin $10,000 for his department.

Tuna fish: Most fish have lots of protein and nutrients, but tuna tops my list because it’s cheap and easy to prepare. If Mom’s classic recipe has gotten a little boring, try this recipe Firehouse Tuna Salad from firefighter and firehouse chef Kipp Rix.

So when you’ve got the ‘duty’ as cook, consider making something high in protein. In addition to being delicious, it just might help you and your ‘crew’ fight the flu!

*Note: The information in this article was compiled from various sources. These suggestions are not a complete list of every preventative or loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace additional safety manuals or the advice of another qualified professional(s). We make no guarantee of results from use of this information. We assume no liability in connection with the information nor the suggestions made.