Nutrition Community

Five Foods That Fight The Flu

Amy Long Carrera, MS, RD, CNSC, CWCMS
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist | Shield HealthCare
12/18/13  12:00 PM PST
Son and Father in Wheelchair Holding Groceries

Don’t take any chances this flu season! Arm your immune system and fight the flu with these five nutritious foods:

1.  Probiotic Foods

Regular intake of probiotics, or healthy bacteria, can reduce upper respiratory tract infections. In a study published in “Nutrition,” the incidence of flu-like symptoms was reduced in 50 healthy volunteers who took probiotics for five months after flu vaccination. Consume yogurt, acidophilus milk, kefir or fermented foods daily, or take a probiotic supplement with multiple strains of bacteria.

2.  Fruits and Vegetables

One raw carrot provides 175 percent of the recommended dietary allowance for vitamin A, which helps reinforce the lining of your respiratory tract to protect you from infection. Fruits and vegetables are good sources of carotenoids, which are converted to vitamin A by your body. Boost your immune system with carotenoid-rich spinach, cantaloupe and vegetable soup.

3.  Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids

Essential fatty acids are part of immune cell membranes, and help regulate the immune response. Polyunsaturated fatty acids include both omega-3 and omega-6 fats. To get your daily dose of these healthy fats, choose a variety of nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fish and seafood.

4.  Protein Foods

Lack of adequate dietary protein increases your susceptibility to infection, by reducing proteins in your blood that attack viruses and bacteria. Consume lean meats, fish, and dairy products. Nuts, seeds, soy and beans are also good sources. Aim for at least 50 grams of protein daily.

5.  Iron-Rich Foods

Critical for immune function, iron is required to mount a defense against invading pathogens, like the flu virus. Enjoy a varied diet that includes lean red meat and chicken, oysters and tofu. You can also get iron from black strap molasses, raisins, fortified cereals, prune juice and beans.