Immune-Boosting Foods May Add to Flu Defense2013-Jan-18
-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Jan. 18 (HealthDay News) -- As U.S. health officials
recommend flu shots and frequent hand washing for protection during
this season's influenza outbreak, dietitians point to another
significant defense weapon: healthy foods.
Immune-boosting foods can improve your ability to ward off the
flu and other health problems, according to the Academy of
Nutrition and Dietetics.
Even a small nutritional deficiency can affect the body's
ability to stay healthy, said Heather Mangieri, a registered
dietitian and academy spokesperson.
"A strong immune system doesn't guarantee your body can fight
off every flu bug, but it is a powerful defense," said Mangieri in
an academy news release. "Good nutrition is essential to a strong
Mangieri provided the following overview of foods that may boost
the immune system:
- Protein is an essential part of your body's defense system.
Sources of protein include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans
and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
- Vitamin A helps prevent infections by keeping the skin and
tissues in the mouth, stomach, lungs and intestines healthy. This
nutrient, found in sweet potatoes, carrots, kale, spinach and red
bell peppers, also helps the body regulate the immune system.
- Vitamin C triggers the production of immune-boosting
antibodies. Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and tangerines are
among the foods rich in vitamin C.
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may provide a boost to the
immune system. People who want to get more vitamin E in their diet
should eat sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower or safflower oil,
hazelnuts, peanut butter or spinach.
- Some believe that zinc, a nutrient found in lean beef, wheat
germ, crab, wheat bran, sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, almonds,
milk and tofu, may also improve functioning of the immune
If you're unsure about what foods to eat to boost your immune
system, Mangieri said a registered dietitian can help.
"A registered dietitian can help ensure you're getting the
nutrients your body needs to function and protect itself," Mangieri
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides
more information on
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