It’s that time of year again! Many are aware that a flu shot can prevent our chances of getting sick. According to The Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 55 percent of Americans do not get the shot. The flu shot is not 100 percent effective, so you may still get sick. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to get the vaccination in order to be safe rather than sorry. Whether you got the vaccination or not, boosting your immune system with different foods can prevent the flu from hitting you.
Having a diet consisting of a variety of fruits and vegetables is most important. They are high in antioxidants.which plays a key role to keeping your immune system healthy. Vitamins A, C, E, selenium, zinc, and beta-carotene are all powerful antioxidants. Not sure how to tell what food has what antioxidant? Vitamin C can be found in kiwis, oranges, and bell peppers. Fruits and vegetables that are orange in color will contain beta-carotene. Not only do you have to choose from fruit and vegetables, but you can eat some nuts. Almonds contain Vitamin E, which will factor into improving your immunity. One brazil nut contains all the selenium you need in one day. Next time you are grocery shopping, some stores provide a list above the product because it will inform you of the nutrients the food contains.
Another important factor is omega-3 fatty acids in improving your immunity. Incorporating kale, a dark green leafy vegetable, into a salad or on a sandwich will also do. Try sprinkling ground flax seed in your oatmeal or chia seeds in your smoothie to get in more omega-3s. Probiotics are essential to adding healthy bacteria to the intestinal tract. You can find probiotics in food such as soy yogurt or fermented food such as sauerkraut A healthy gastrointestinal tract aids in your immunity response. .
Getting a variety of minerals and vitamins is not the only way to enhance the immune system. Being sure that you get a sufficient amount of sleep and that you are exercising regularly. Keeping yourself hydrated is especially important not just when you are exercising, but throughout the day as well. An idea would be to make a smoothie. You can either take with you on the go, or have it post workout. This way you will not only be hydrating yourself, but will be getting vitamins and minerals from the fruits and vegetables the smoothie contains.
There are many different ways to prevent the flu by increasing your immune system via a natural way. Including eating a healthy diet rich in nutrients, we have to also remember the basics. These basics are what our parents reiterated to us over and over again in order to stop the spread of germs. Things such as making sure you wash your hands frequently and thoroughly, covering your nose and mouth, and to limit touching of your face. If we keep these things in mind and make these changes in our diet, the flu will have a difficult time bringing us down.
Written by Allison Mack, Kent State Dietetic Student