Avoid Flu This Winter – Food to Boost the Immune System
The weather is turning chilly and while the autumn leaves paint the landscape the cold weather also brings with it the dreaded flu season. In addition to guarding yourself from getting the flu by getting an annual vaccination there are ways you can naturally boost your immune system to help your body fight off this unpleasant virus and not succumb to its full influence.
First, a little bit of information about the flu itself. Unfortunately, the flu spreads fairly easily. You can catch the flu of another person up to six-feet away. The flu spreads mainly via droplets that are expelled by the infected person in the form of a cough, sneeze, and even talking. If you inhale or ingest these droplets you too can become infected. If you are sick it’s important that you avoid contact with others for the full time that you are contagious – that is one day before you experience symptoms and a full seven days after you first become sick. If you are in contact with a sick person washing your hands with soap and water or using hand sanitizer can help reduce your chances to getting sick.
Exercise regularly to boost your immune system. By exercising, you are improving your circulation and oxygen intake. This in turns warms your body and causes your body to produce more virus fighting cells. In general, ensuring you work-out a few times a week can help strengthen your immune system.
There are mixed views on whether supplements will help you ward off the flu. The main supplements people go to for flu prevention is vitamin C, echinacea, and zinc. However, it is possible to get all the nutrients you need from your diet and over doing it on supplements can actually have a detrimental effect, especially in children. Boosting your immune system through food is a much better source of flu prevention.
Eating a good variety of fresh fruit is one of the best ways to keep the flu at bay.
Fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, full of antioxidants, and vitamins E and A, which help the vitamin C work better. The effect on your immune system is much more beneficial than relying on supplements. However, look past the ever popular orange and branch out to lesser known flu fighting fruits. Look for fruits that have deep, rich colors for these have higher phytonutrient density, key nutrients for improving the immune systems. Blueberries, papayas, and cranberries are all excellent choices. For potassium, magnesium, and vitamin B6 make sure to include some bananas into your diet.
Vegetables are just as important when it comes to planning a flu busting diet. Color again comes into play with regards to vegetables. Sweet potatoes, broccoli, carrots, and dark leafy greens are all items that you should include regularly in your meals. Tomatoes, while technically a fruit, are also excellent additions, even canned tomatoes have very high amounts of phytonutrients. One of the most important immune stimulating vitamins you can get from vegetables is A. Vitamin A can even help your body’s white blood cells work more efficiently. The best sources of vitamin A are cabbage, carrots, spinach, romaine lettuce, and collard greens.
A balanced immune system boosting diet includes plenty of lean protein sources. These proteins contain essential amino acids that your body needs to build cells that make your immune system function at its best. Good sources of lean protein include skinless chicken or turkey breasts, pork loin, fish, eggs, and turkey burgers instead of beef. These proteins not only provide you with amino acids but essential amounts of iron and zinc, two minerals your immune system needs to function.
In addition to food there are some drinks, herbs, and spices that will help you keep your immune system strong. One of the best of these is garlic. Garlic has natural infection fighting properties and has been used for illness for many centuries, such as the old French treatment of eating whole roasted garlic cloves to recover from a cold or flu. Green tea is not only soothing to drink; it has plenty of virus fighting antioxidants. And of course never forget about the old staple of chicken soup, whose combination of ingredients are said to be excellent boosters and fighters both before and during sickness.
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