Flu-Fighting Foods May Help Keep Flu Away

As flu season grips the nation with heightened awareness of hand washing and cough covering, healthy eating is a potent prevention method getting left out in the cold.

"It's important to eat a variety of healthy foods from all food groups throughout the year, but it's particularly significant during flu season," said Andrea Garen, Registered Dietitian and Project Manager with Dairy Council of California. "Adding flu-fighting foods like yogurt, garlic, citrus and chicken to your diet can boost your body's immune system and help you to avoid getting sick."

Yogurt and other cultured milk products contain probiotics, beneficial bacteria with immune-boosting benefits. Look for the "live active culture" seal, which indicates that probiotics have been added. Also check milk product labels for vitamin D. Early research suggests low levels of vitamin D may be linked to a seasonal increase in colds and flu and a higher incidence of respiratory infections.

Garlic boosts the immune system, increasing resistance to infection and stress. Crush the cloves with the flat side of a knife before adding them to food to release the garlic juice and its immune properties.  Citrus fruits contain vitamin C, and chicken, meat and peanuts contain zinc. Both nutrients play important roles in the proper functioning of the immune system.

To help families eat healthy and boost their immune systems, Garen compiled a Flu-Fighting Foods Cookbook on the free family-nutrition website Meals Matter, sponsored by Dairy Council of California. View the cookbook at http://www.mealsmatter.org/Cookbooks/DCC/flufightingfoods/


For easy-to-swallow flu prevention, try a Creamy Orange Shake. Combine one-half cup of orange juice with one-half cup of fat-free frozen yogurt and a teaspoon of vanilla. Each one-cup serving has just 177 calories and 3.5 grams of fat, in addition to flu-fighting goodness.


For families already affected by the flu, find relief in other recipes like Ginger Citrus Pops and Southwestern Chicken Soup. Fresh ginger helps control nausea and stomach upset, while chicken soup reduces inflammation and helps relieve nasal congestion.

Source:  Dairy Council of California


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