What extra steps can you take to fight off illness during cold and flu season?
Dietitians say your diet can affect your body’s ability to fend off the flu. They recommend keeping your kitchen stocked with foods containing immune system boosters, such as allicin, vitamin C, zinc and probiotics. These include common foods like garlic, citrus fruits, seafood and meats, and yoghurt. Dietitians also suggest switching to vitamin D-fortified milk, since research indicates that vitamin D boosts immunity against respiratory viruses.
Doctors and dietitians warn not to obsess about only eating “super foods”. A well-rounded, healthy diet will give you the best defense against illness. Eating at regular intervals also will keep the immune system at its peak. A Washington Post article quotes Dr. Darwin Deen:
In fact, more useful than eating certain foods is to eat "on a regular basis," Deen said. "Every time you eat something, you're asking the immune system to respond to what you put in your mouth." The idea is to "keep the immune system busy" so it's ready to leap into action when you need it most.
This doesn’t mean that grabbing french fries when you get an afternoon craving for a snack is a good idea. You can make sure to eat regularly even when you’re on the go by putting an apple or orange in your bag before you leave the house, or keeping a stash of fruit bars or granola in your car or desk.
For more information on flu prevention, visit the Center for Disease Control’s informative H1N1 site.