Foods that Fight the Flu
Life is hectic, and we are in constant contact with viruses: at work, from our kids and at the grocery store. Flu season peaks in December, generally for 10 to 16 weeks. During that time, between 10 and 20 percent of Canadians will get the flu and even more will pick up a cold. This is why it is essential to have a well-tuned immune system fighting the good fight.
“A good diet is essential,” says Jennifer Tanner, a naturopathic doctor with Kinetica Health Group in Toronto. “When you eat poorly, you have less food for the warriors – those immune cells – to go out and fight.” Immunology expert Dr. William Boisvert, a tenured professor at the University of Hawaii’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, agrees. He says under-nutrition is one of the biggest causes of immune deficiency. “A diet chronically lacking in macronutrients, such as protein and healthy fat, can significantly impair the ability of the immune system to fight infections.”
Read on for an expert-approved list of the top 15 foods that fight the flu and boost your immune system.
Carrots are rich in beta carotene and vitamin A, which helps your body repair an impaired immune system. “Vitamin A helps combat free radicals and prevent cell damage,” says Tanner. Try them raw, lightly steamed, roasted, shredded or tossed in salads, soups, meat loaf, muffins and more. (Try our healthy carrot recipes.)
Kefir is a superfood filled with probiotics. A 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that probiotics may reduce symptoms and recovery time for the common cold. “Probiotics help promote strong immune health,” says Natasha Audette, a registered holistic nutritionist. “They’re vital to proper digestion. Without proper digestion, our bodies are unable to break down the nutrients we take in through food to help strengthen our immune systems.”