Fight the Flu with Food

by Elaine Secilmis, RD CD Don’t let the flu get the best of you this winter!  Whether or not you have gotten the flu shot this year (it is highly recommended that older adults and young children get them!), boost your immune system with some naturally flu fighting foods to keep you healthy all season long.  Black Eyed Peas – No I’m not talking about the band!  These legumes are a good source of zinc, a trace mineral that helps your immune system staying strong. Not a fan of black eyed peas? No worries, you can get your zinc from roasted pumpkin seeds, pinto beans, peanuts, and wheat germ. Carrots – These veggies are a great source of beta-carotene the pre-cursor to vitamin A.  Did you know that beta-carotene is involved in protecting you from respiratory infections? Good for your eyes and your lungs!  Tea – so many varieties which to choose!  For flu benefits stick with oolong, green or black because these contain strong antioxidants. Yogurt – think probiotics! Yup, the good bacteria that aid in digestion can also help ward off the flu!  The good bacteria from fermented foods and probiotics help strengthen your immune system.  Not a fan of yogurt?  Try Greek yogurt, cottage cheese or sauerkraut.  Tomatoes – who said oranges are your best source of vitamin C?  Eating about 1 medium tomato provides about 40% of your body’s daily vitamin C dosage1.   Mushrooms – These powerhouses increase the body's resistance to viral infections by boosting the activity of natural killer cells, a vital part of the immune system. Mushrooms are rich in selenium.  Diets low in selenium can increase the risk of developing a severe flu1. Almonds – Rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant; almonds aid the body by defending it from viral infections. To the get most vitamin E from almonds, choose almond products like almond butter, sliced/chopped almonds and/or almond oil. Wild Salmon – Excellent source of vitamin D, especially important for us living in the northwest during the fall and winter seasons.  Vitamin D is a crucial element in boosting the immune system in order to kill harmful bacteria and viruses. 1Simon, Nissa. "9 Natural Flu-Fighting Foods."  October 2013.

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