Survive Flu Season: 6 Nutrition Tricks to Stay Healthy

Want to survive flu season… and enhance your overall health? Here are 6 nutrition tips to help you succeed!

We all know that we should be washing our hands frequently and getting enough sleep during flu season, but did you know that your diet also has a major impact on the ability of your immune system to ward off illness? These 6 tips will help you fend off the common cold and even nasty flu infections.

Drink Plenty of Water

It’s important to drink enough water regardless of the time of year, but it’s especially important during flu season when you’re trying to ward off a cold. Mucus membranes in your upper respiratory tract are part of your body’s first line of defense against airborne pathogens. These membranes are most effective when they’re moist, which will only happen when you’re properly hydrated. As a general rule, aim for at least 8 8-oz glasses of water daily.

Load up on Zinc

Zinc is the secret ingredient in all of those medicines that promise to shorten the length and severity of your cold (think Airborne, Zicam, etc.). As with any supplement though, the body absorbs zinc best if you get it through the food you eat. Oysters, peanuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, beans and crab are all good sources of zinc, though it’s found in a lot of other foods as well.

Eat Breakfast

Eating a good balanced breakfast prepares your body for the day ahead, and this includes your immune system. If you think you’re coming down with something or you’re already sick, eat more than usual for breakfast. In a study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers compared two groups of people: one group ate a large breakfast (1,200 calories) while the other group ate no breakfast at all. The people who ate the 1,200 calorie breakfast experienced a 450% increase in their gamma interferon levels, which is a natural antiviral agent, while the other group actually suffered a 17% decrease.

Eat Yogurt

Yogurt (or Greek yogurt which packs twice as much protein as regular yogurt) will help you maintain healthy levels of bacteria in your body. This and other fermented food contains probiotics which are important for warding off unfriendly pathogens.

Avoid Alcohol

Alcohol actually weakens your immune system, so it’s best to enjoy it in moderation during the flu season and not at all if you feel a cold coming on or if you’re already sick. It also dehydrates you, which dries up those mucus membranes.

Avoid Sugar

High levels of refined sugar will cause insulin levels in your body to spike, inhibiting the release of growth hormones, which in turn can depress your immune system. It’s a good idea to avoid refined sugars as is, but especially during flu season.

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