There is no denying that this year’s flu season has been one of the worst experienced in years. It is important to take every step necessary to prevent the likelihood of catching this serious illness. An effective and natural way to avoid catching the flu is to support and strengthen the immune system. Read the tips below for changes you can make today to ensure a healthy winter for you and your family!
Consume adequate protein! Protein is a rich source of the mineral zinc, which plays a vital role in the body’s ability to produce white blood cells. White blood cells are responsible for protecting our bodies from viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens. Consume a variety of protein sources from both plant and animal foods such as poultry, eggs, fish, shellfish, legumes, nuts and seeds.
Add color to your diet. When creating your plate, aim for at least three different colors from a variety of plant foods. Vibrant and colorful fruits and vegetables are rich sources of nutrients, phytonutrients, and antioxidants, which further help to prevent cellular damage, inflammation, and illness. An important nutrient to focus on increasing in your diet is vitamin C, which can be found in foods such as citrus fruits, strawberries, papaya, kiwi, and broccoli.
Focus on gut health. There is a strong link between the health of the bacteria in our GI systems and the strength of our immune systems. The beneficial bacteria, known as probiotics, can be found in fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, kefir, yogurt, kombucha tea, pickles, etc. Consuming a variety of these foods in your diet can populate the GI tract with the healthy bacteria, preventing pathogenic bacteria from having the ability to cause illness.
Manage stress. Too much negative stress can down-regulate the function of the immune system. The body can become “stuck” in the fight or flight response, preventing necessary energy being allocated toward a healthy immune system. Stress can come in many forms such as a low nutrient diet, inadequate sleep, lack of exercise, dysfunctional relationships, intense work-environment, over-training, etc. Identify the stressors in your life and be sure to incorporate and make time for activities that relieve stress.
References: Weintraub, L. 2018, January 29. Nutrition: Fight the flu by eating right and developing healthy habits. Retrieved from: https://www.dailynews.com/2018/01/29/nutrition-fight-the-flu-by-eating-right-and-developing-healthy-habits/