What Foods Help You Fight the Flu?
According to California health officials, this winter’s flu season is one of the worst and deadliest experienced in the past decade.
Flu season runs from October through May and its height is typically in February. However, this year more people are getting sick earlier than past years and the death toll is alarming.
Experts continue to encourage inoculation against the flu and antiviral medications can be prescribed to those who need it.
Those with underlying health problems and compromised immune systems, such as pregnant women and elderly folks, are at heightened risk of contracting the flu.
To help protect yourself and your family against infection, boost your immune system with a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition and start by including a variety of nutrient-dense foods in your eating plan.
In fact, a healthy immune system is not only important to defend against harmful viruses, bacteria and other pathogens, but also plays a crucial role in healing and recuperating when we do get sick. Because nutrition helps support a healthy immune system, eating the right foods, especially during flu season, can help you stay well.
Double-up with protein, zinc
White blood cells, the immunity cells, fight infection and release antibodies to help destroy disease-causing pathogens. Protein foods that are rich in essential minerals such as zinc are important in the production of white blood cells and other aspects of the immune system.
Older people and vegetarians can be at increased risk of zinc deficiency. Include foods such as turkey, shellfish, beans and nuts that contain both protein, zinc and other minerals to help build immunity cells and fight infection.
Eat a rainbow of fruits, vegetables
Fruits and vegetables, especially those rich in vitamins A and C, are immune-strengthening foods rich in antioxidants.
Vitamin A from red and orange vegetables like carrots, sweet potato, bell peppers and mango, as well as dark green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, are important for regulating the immune system.
Immunity-enhancing vitamin C is known for helping fight colds, but is important for strengthening your defenses against different pathogens. The body cannot make vitamin C so it’s important to obtain it from foods like broccoli, kiwi, papaya, strawberries and citrus foods.
Strengthen your microbiome
Research has linked a healthy microbiome, the trillions of microorganisms and their genes that live primarily in the human digestive tract, with improved immunity and good health.
In fact, your gut health and immune system are closely related and dependent on one another. Foods with probiotics, such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and kimchi, help populate the gut with good bacteria, blocking pathogens from entering the bloodstream.
The development of a strong microbiome starts in newborns or even earlier, but continues to play a vital role in immune and digestive health throughout the lifespan.
Reduce stress, increase self care
Stress in the body from factors like inadequate sleep, smoking, consumption of too much highly processed foods or alcohol, and even relationship problems, for example, can leave the immune system frazzled.
When your stress levels are high and the body’s stress response is in overdrive, it becomes harder to fight off infection.
Consider the everyday bad habits and emotional stressors that are negatively impacting your body and potentially even weakening your immune system and seek to implement better self care.