Fight the Flu
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has reported nationally high influenza activity for the 2019-2020 flu season with multiple hospitalizations and associated fatalities. The single best way to fight the flu or minimize its affects is to get the flu vaccination. The CDC recommends that everyone six months and older be vaccinated by the end of October. If you have not been vaccinated yet, consider asking your healthcare provider if it is still a good prevention tool for your health.
In addition to getting the flu vaccine, maintaining a germ-free environment (to the best of your abilities) is a great way to fight the flu. Washing your hands well and regularly, and covering your coughs and sneezes are some of the the best habits to adapt. Don’t forget to incorporate an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to your hand-washing routine for extra germ protection. The flu is a strong virus, but the good news is there are immune-boosting tips you can keep in mind during flu season.
What is the immune system? It is a combination of cells and organs that work as the body’s defense against infections by attacking germs to help protect our bodies and keep us healthy. Keep your immune system strong throughout flu season to help protect you from the flu or to lessen the duration and/or intensity of its symptoms. Here are some key nutrients that can ensure your immune system is in “fighting shape” this flu season:
Vitamin C is the most associated vitamin with immune boosting properties. This vitamin helps protect you from infection by creating antibodies and boosting immunity. Research shows vitamin C is essential for the growth and repair of tissues all over the body. Great sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits (i.e. oranges, grapefruit, clementine’s and tangerines), red bell peppers, papaya, strawberries and fortified cereals/foods.
Protein plays a major role in healing and recovery. Protein is considered a building block that helps create antibodies for defense against germs. Aim to eat a variety of foods containing protein such as seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans, nuts, seeds and vegetables. Challenge yourself to try a few high-protein vegetarian meals to incorporate more plants into your diet (this will incorporate more immune-boosting nutrients, too!).
Vitamin A works to keep the skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy to regulate the immune system and protect against infection. Our skin is our largest organ and our first line of defense from germs, making vitamin A crucial for immune health. You can find this immune-boosting vitamin in many foods such as sweet potatoes, carrots, broccoli, spinach, apricots, eggs and fortified milks and cereals.
Zinc helps the immune system work properly and may help wounds heal. Zinc is crucial for the normal development and functioning of cells. Zinc can be found in lean meats, seafood, milk, whole grain products, beans, seeds and nuts.
Bottom line: Keeping your hands and personal spaces clean and consuming nutrient-dense foods can put you in good shape to fight the flu. If you experience any symptoms, such as a fever, muscle or body aches, fatigue, cough, sore throat and/or headaches contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Learn more about nutrition's role in our health with the wellness programs offered by Wellness Workdays.
Written by: Claire Rudden, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern.
1. The CDC
2. Kids Health
3. The CDC
4. Eat Right
5. Kids Health