by Tracey Shaffer
With the cold and flu season in full-force and the threat of COVID-19, a strong immune system is your best defense against disease. Immune systems may be weakened by poor diet, lack of sleep, lack of exercise or stress. Here are some nutrition sources to help boost your immune system to fight those scary viruses.
Vitamin C – Vitamin C can help prevent the common cold and can help lower the duration and severity of a cold. Foods high in vitamin C are citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruits and tangerines; strawberries and papaya; vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, spinach and kale.
Zinc – When taken at the first sign of illness, zinc can shorten the duration of cold viruses. Zinc can be found in shellfish, meats, spinach, chickpeas, nuts and seeds.
Probiotics- Probiotics may give your immune system a boost and inhibit the growth of harmful gut bacteria. Good sources of probiotics are yogurt with active and live cultures, kefir and kombucha.
Protein – Protein helps support your immune system cells. Compete protein sources (those containing all essential amino acids) include meats, fish, low-fat dairy products, plant-based combinations such as beans and brown rice and soy products.
Water - Staying hydrated can help loosen trapped mucus and keep you from risking dehydration when you are sick and running a fever. Drink at least eight glasses of water a day.
Seasonings and spices – Ginseng tea, garlic and ginger have all been shown to help combat a cold or a flu by boosting the body’s immunity through their ant-inflammatory powers.
A healthy diet is just one way to help protect yourself against the cold and flu. A good night’s rest, daily exercise and good handwashing practices are other ways to help protect yourself. Try this immune boosting smoothie to fight the flu.
Tracey Shaffer is a registered and licensed dietitian and owner of KC Nutrition Coach in Eastern Jackson County. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.