Top Foods to Boost Your Immune System to Fight Cold and Flu
It is official – the annual flu season is upon us. In addition to getting a flu shot, the best protection you can give yourself from getting colds and flu is taking good care of your health, which includes eating the right foods that can help boost your immune system.
Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, flu activity commonly peaks in the United States in January or February, however, flu activity can begin as early as October and last until as late as May. Plus, during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, more people are out and about, shopping and having family gatherings and parties, so more people are in contact with each other, potentially spreading germs faster.
As with football, the best defense is a good offense. Taking charge of your own health through a healthful diet, adequate rest and eliminating bad habits such as smoking and excess alcohol can build up your immune system so it can do its job against outside invaders.
First and foremost, you should strive for a healthful diet that cuts out junk foods that weaken the immune system. Excess fats in particular suppress immune system activity. Sugar inhibits the ability of the white blood cells to fight viruses and bacteria.
Following are 10 additional dietary changes you should make now to help stop cold and flu in its tracks:
Live active cultures found in yogurt (probiotics) are healthy bacteria that keep the gut and intestinal tract free of disease-causing germs. A study from the University of Vienna in Austria found that a daily 7-ounce dose of yogurt is effective in boosting immunity – more so than taking probiotic dietary supplements.
A separate Swedish study found that patients drinking a product containing Lactobacillus reuteri, a specific probiotic that appears to stimulate white blood cells, took 33% fewer sick days than those given a placebo. Stonyfield Farm is the only US brand with this particular strain of probiotic, however, aiming for at least one serving of yogurt with live cultures daily of any brand should help with immune-boosting activity.