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St. Joseph's Health Centre Toronto

Food to fight the flu

We all know that getting the flu shot is one of the best ways to protect ourselves and our loved ones during flu season. But did you know that eating healthy foods will also lower your risk of getting sick?

Stocking up on nutrients helps keep your immune system working well, which can help prevent you from catching the flu. Here are some nutrients our dietitian Fiona Bellefeuille recommends for a healthy body:

  • food-to-fight-the-fluProtein plays a big part in the body’s defense mechanism. Include protein-rich foods like lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes, soy products, unsalted nuts and seeds with each meal.
  • Vitamin C stimulates the formation of antibodies and boosts your immunity. Add colourful fruits and vegetables such as oranges, grapefruits, kiwi, strawberries, peppers, broccoli and tomatoes to your diet.
  • Zinc plays a part in helping the immune system work properly. Zinc is found in foods such as lean meat, poultry, seafood, milk, whole grains, beans, lentils and nuts.
  • Vitamin A has been found to regulate the immune system and help protect the body from infection. Foods that are rich in vitamin A include sweet potatoes, kale, spinach, carrots, apricots, red bell peppers and eggs.
  • Vitamin E works as an antioxidant in the body, fighting free radicals to possibly improve immune function. Reach for foods such as sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter and spinach to increase the vitamin E in your diet.

The best way to make sure you are including these nutrients in your diet is to eat a variety of different coloured fruits and vegetables, have moderate sized portions of lean meat, poultry or fish and incorporate whole grain and low fat dairy products into your daily diet. Nutritional supplements should not be necessary if you follow a healthy diet.

Get some of these nutrients now — click here for an immune-boosting soup recipe!

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