The best foods to help boost the immune system and fight off the flu during flu season.
By: Kristen Castillo
Flu season may have started a few months ago, but the illness is expected to ramp up during the next few weeks. That may be because warmer temperatures across the country have kept flu levels low, until recently.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), during a typical flu season, more than 200,000 Americans go to the hospital for flu complications. While flu death rates can vary, during some years as many as American 49,000 deaths are attributed to the flu.
How can you protect yourself? Get a flu shot; get rest; eat healthy; cover your sneezes and coughs; and use good hygiene, like frequent and proper hand washing.
Your diet can protect you, too. Here’s a list of food and drinks that can help keep you healthy during flu season:
Almonds – Power up with high-antioxidant almonds. The nuts contain vitamin E, which helps the body fight illness.
Tea – Pour yourself a cup of green, black or oolong tea, all which boast antioxidants like quercetin, which has been shown to fight viruses.
Citrus – Reach for that orange or grapefruit! These citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which can help the body stay healthy and recover more quickly if you do get sick. Fruits and Veggies More Matters suggests eating citrus on a regular basis, noting that one medium orange has 100 percent of your daily vitamin C needs.
Mushrooms – Add mushrooms to your salad or pizza! Loaded with zinc, this fungus boosts your immunity. Mushrooms also generate vitamin D when exposed to sunlight, so look for packages that call out the vitamin D content for an extra immunity boost.
Vegetable Juice – Whip up a tasty and healthy juice to fend off the flu. Add fruits like apples (rich in vitamin C), as well as blueberries and cranberries for an antioxidant boost. Veggies like spinach and broccoli can boost your immune system’s health, too.
Chicken Soup – Grandma was right! Chicken soup can help you feel better when you’re sick. It may help ward off illness, too. According to research published in the American Journal of Therapeutics, a protein called carnosine, found in chicken soup and chicken breast, may reduce inflammatory symptoms during infection and even prevent the development of viruses and colds.
Yogurt – Probiotics like those found in yogurt and other fermented foods may fight the flu, too. The good bacteria can help prevent intestinal infections and may enhance the immune system, potentially resulting in shorter, less severe and less frequent colds.
Garlic – It might not be pleasant for your breath, but garlic can be great for your immune system. Add garlic – raw, minced or chopped – to your cooking. Be careful to not overcook it, which could reduce the seasoning’s immunity-building benefits.