Researched and written by: Karlyle Lim, Dietetic Intern
I absolutely love this time of year – the changing of the leaves, the cool brisk mornings and evenings, the mug of hot chocolate warming my soul even as I see my breath float away in the breeze. I love it! As for others, this time of year only brings bitter remarks about the torturously cold four months ahead and the pending possibility of coming down with a cold, or worse, the flu. Have no fear, though! Nutrition-related, immune-boosting tips will help you fend off what could be a miserable holiday season.
More fruits & veggies
The bright and attractive colors of a lot of fruits and vegetables indicate just how nutrient-rich they are. Packed with antioxidants, these foods help keep your immune system strong. Here are a few examples of those immune-boosting nutrients and where you can find them.
- Sweet potatoes*
- Dark, leafy greens (spinach*, kale, collard greens, arugula)
- Oranges, grapefruit, lemons, & limes
- Strawberries & other berries
- Broccoli* & cauliflower
- Brussels sprouts*
*indicates in season now
Adequate protein is also important for maintaining your immune function. Aim for lean proteins, especially those that provide an added nutritional punch.
- Low-fat dairy
- Beans & legumes
Vitamin B6, Selenium, & Zinc
- Meat (Beef, Chicken, Pork)
Other good-for-you nutrients
Here are some additional flu-fighting nutrients and the foods that contain them.
- Almonds & other nuts
- Wheat germ
- Fermented dairy products (buttermilk, kefir, crème fraiche, sour cream)
- Fortified cereals & other grains
- Fruits & vegetables
Your nutrition alone won’t keep your 100% safe from coming down with something. Be sure to keep in mind some of the following for overall health and protection against sickness.
- Wash your hands, frequently
- Get a good night’s rest (7-9 hours)
- Try to keep a low level of stress
- Maintain physical activity (at least 30 minutes a day)