January is the peak of flu season. This year we do not only have the seasonal flu to worry about, but we also have the H1N1 flu hovering all around us. With handwashing and the flu vaccines being the most traditional way of avoiding the flu, let’s look at some foods that might actually help us resist getting the flu in the first place.
Add bolstering immunity to the growing list of this vitamin’s perks. In one study, people with low blood levels of vitamin D were somewhat more likely to have had an upper respiratory tract infection than people with higher levels. It appears that this vitamin helps the body produce an antimicrobial substance that defends against infections.
How to Consume Enough: Eat fatty fish like salmon, herring and light tuna canned in oil. Also, drink D-fortified low-fat milk and orange juice. Yet even if you have these items, you may still fall short with the optimal vitamin D amount recommended. So supplement with 1,000 units of this vitamin (preferably the D3 version) — especially during the remaining winter months when access to sunlight is scarce. (Floridians there is no excuse for not absorbing natural sunlight on a daily basis. Remember the expression,”Fun in the sun.” Go outside!)
If you don’t eat adequate protein, your body has to break down its own tissue to make some of this necessary nutrient. This can impede immunity. Sufficient protein ensures a decent supply of circulating white blood cells and antibodies, which are essential to a highly functional immune system.
How to Consume Enough: Eat two to three servings a day of low-fat dairy foods, soy foods, nuts or dried beans, plus up to a daily serving (three ounces) of fish, skinless poultry or lean meat. This makes you more likely to meet the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein: 63 grams a day for men and 50 for women.
Omega-3 fatty acids may enhance immunity by reducing inflammation. They may also boost white blood cells. It, too, acts by controlling the immune system.
How to Consume Enough: Eat fatty fish (such as those mentioned above), omega-3 enhanced eggs, tofu, walnuts and ground flaxseed. Choose canola and olive oils as your main oils. And if you don’t eat fish, consider an omega-3 supplement — one that has a combined 1,000-milligram total.
This mineral is crucial for supporting healthy immune cells. Zinc’s effective anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties help fight viruses. In a study of older individuals, those with lower than ideal blood levels of zinc were more likely to get and die from pneumonia.
How to Consume Enough: Eat beans, lean red meat and nuts, such as cashews and peanuts. It is not necessary — and perhaps not even helpful — to rely on zinc lozenges. Evidence regarding efficacy has been contradictory and often weak. It may be worthwhile to take a multivitamin supplement — especially during flu season — as most brands provide the recommended daily value of 15 milligrams. Avoid single high-dose zinc supplements, as too much of this nutrient can actually interfere with immunity.
There’s no shortage of herbs linked to combating colds and fighting flu. Among the most popular are echinacea, ginseng, garlic and elderberry. As with any drug, herbs should also be discussed with your doctor if you have a medical history.Some herbs don’t work well with daily medications. You should have your doctor’s approval first.
As we push further into the flu season the most reliable source of information is basically using our own common sense. We go through the flu season each year, don’t fear the H1N1 virus, treat it as any other flu and take the same precautions.Decrease your stress level and get plenty of sleep. Before you know it the flu season will be over! Take care of yourself……
My Contact: LisaRKohl@aol.com Email me anytime. Tell us your story. Subscribe to my columns.