Cold and Flu Season: Can Diet Help?
Washing your hands is the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick. But what else can you do to protect yourself during cold and flu season? Can your diet help boost your immune system and decrease your chances of catching a bug?
A healthy diet is certainly an important component in maintaining a strong immune system. A balanced diet including a wide variety of foods can help ensure that you’re getting the vitamins, minerals and macronutrients your body needs to support your immune system.
While almost all nutrients help the immune system in some way, the following nutrients and foods may give it a little boost:
Vitamin C, an antioxidant, found in fruits and vegetables such as citrus fruit, strawberries, kiwi, mango, broccoli and red and green bell pepper. Be sure to get your 5 – 10 servings of vegetables and fruits each day. Add fruit to smoothies. Top yogurt and salads with strawberries. Add broccoli or peppers to salads, casseroles and stir-fries.
Zinc, a mineral which is important for a healthy immune system, found in meat, fish, chicken, peanuts, peanut butter and legumes (beans and lentils). Make a peanut butter and banana sandwich. Add a variety of beans to chili. Make lentil soup. Have 2 – 4 ounces of meat, fish or chicken at lunch and dinner.
Selenium, an antioxidant, found in meat, seafood, fish (canned tuna, canned salmon with bones, cooked salmon), whole-grain cereal, wheat germ, garlic and Brazil nuts. Choose whole grains more often. Consume fish at least twice a week. Add flavour to food with garlic. Include Brazil nuts in a healthy snack.
However, despite all of your efforts to stay healthy, you may still get a cold or flu. If you do, try the following to help ease your symptoms.
Chicken Soup – it contains helpful antioxidants, the warm liquid can soothe a sore throat and help relieve congestion, and the aroma and warmth is comforting.
Ginger Tea (made with fresh gingerroot) – fresh gingerroot can help decrease nausea and vomiting.