You’ve finally made it to the tail end of flu season, but it’s not quite over just yet. This year’s particularly pervasive strain of the flu preyed on more than the usual victims — people with weaker immune systems, such as children, the elderly or those fighting certain diseases. It afflicted young, healthy people, even those who got the flu shot. In fact, the flu stole some of their lives. That’s a great reason to do everything you can to avoid catching it yourself.
Eating a well-rounded diet could help to buoy your immune system, therefore decreasing your chances of catching the flu. Any varied combination of fruits, veggies, lean proteins and whole grains will help to build a stronger immune system, but there are a few specific foods that provide the most immune support. Here are a few of them.
Nuts and Seeds
Protein is the body’s first resource when it comes to staying strong and healthy — after all, it builds muscles. So it makes sense your body would want plenty of it. You might be surprised to learn that nuts provide plenty of protein with the added benefit of inflammation-fighting fats.
Do you chug a cup of vitamin C-infused tea every time you feel yourself coming down with the sniffles? When you eat citrus fruit, you essentially do the same thing. Citrus fruits tend to be packed with vitamin C, a powerful immune-boosting nutrient, according to many studies.
Yogurt or Kefir
By now you’ve probably heard about the healthy bacteria known as probiotics, and both yogurt and kefir — a fermented, yogurt-like drink — are lousy with them. Probiotics keep the gut healthy, which is an essential component of your immune system. As long as it can fight off disease-causing germs, so can the rest of your body.
When British scientists administered garlic extract to half of their study subjects and a placebo to the other half, the results were clear. Those who received the garlic were 67 percent less likely to come down with the common cold. It’s all thanks to allicin, a component of garlic that actively ousts bacteria and infections. So eat garlic a couple times a day or a few times a week to boost your immune system.
Omega-3 fatty acids are also trending right now, and for a good reason. More and more research suggests that these fats, found in fatty fishes like salmon and mackerel, can reduce inflammation in the body. This inflammation could potentially slow down your body’s defenses and make your lung susceptible to infection, so chow down on plenty of seafood to stay healthy.
Mushrooms are more than a great pizza topper. They’re also an ancient flu-fighting remedy — except in the olden days, no one really understood why eating mushrooms helped stave off the cold. Now scientists understand that mushrooms actually help your body to make more white blood cells, as well as white blood cells that are more effective at fighting off infectious invaders.
Black or Green Tea
You’ve probably never heard of interferon, but its name indicates the chemical’s role in your body. It interferes with the evolution of viruses in your bloodstream. Black and green tea both pack ample amounts of an amino acid that helps to produce interferon, so drink up during flu season.
Zinc isn’t a very high-profile mineral, but it plays a significant part in keeping your body healthy. Many people are zinc-deficient, and as such, their immune system is at a disadvantage. Make sure you have plenty of zinc to stave off the sniffles by eating adequate amounts of beef, at least once or twice a week.
If you’ve been eating a bowl of oats every morning, keep up the good work. It’s rich in a fiber known as beta-glucan. According to studies, this powerful nutrient is capable of not only boosting your immune system but also enhancing the effectiveness of antibiotics and helping wounds to heal faster.
Chicken Noodle Soup
Chicken noodle soup is probably something you crave when you’re already sick, but try eating it preemptively to ward off a cold. A recent research study discovered that when chicken cooks, it emits a specific amino acid that can help stop congestion dead in its tracks.
Now that you know just how powerful your diet can be in keeping you healthy and happy as flu season comes to an end, incorporate some of these foods into your diet. Just a few more servings of fruits and veggies or the addition of an extra dash of garlic to dinner could be the difference between a healthy week and days of sniffly suffering.