Written by UConn Dietetics Student Jessica Tucker
Now more than ever, it is important for your immune system to stay in tip top shape with flu season upon us. One of the best ways to stay healthy is to eat a diet filled with fruits, veggies and whole grains! Good nutrition is essential for a strong immune system. No one food or supplement can prevent illness, but you can help support your immune system by including these nutrients in your overall eating plan on a regular basis.
Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)
This vitamin helps protect your body against infections by keeping skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines and respiratory system healthy.1 Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli, red bell peppers, eggs or foods labeled “vitamin A fortified” such as some cereals or milk.
Vitamin C helps stimulate the formation of antibodies.1 Citrus fruits like oranges, grapefruit and tangerines, strawberries, red bell pepper and kiwi are all rich in vitamin C. You may also find some cereals fortified with vitamin C.
This nutrient works as an antioxidant and may support immune function.1 Foods full of vitamin E include vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower oil), nuts, seeds and avocado.
Zinc helps the immune system work in tip – top shape and can help wounds heal.2 Zinc-rich foods include beans, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry, seafood and whole grain products.
Specific amino acids found in protein are essential for healing and recovery.2 Eat a variety of protein foods that include meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds.
These nutrients all play their part to help your immune system work most efficiently and effectively, especially important during this upcoming flu season. Eating a well – balanced diet filled with fruits, vegetables and whole grains gives us a mix of vitamins and minerals that help us meet our body’s needs.
There are also other ways to keep yourself healthy during flu season!
- Get plenty of sleep! Lack of sleep affects your immune system.
- Wash your hands frequently!
- Keep your hands away from your face!
- Cough and sneeze into your elbow!
- Get your flu shot! Many are free at local pharmacies.
- 5 immune boosters to help keep you healthy amid COVID-19 outbreak. https://health.ucdavis.edu/good-food/blog/nutrients-to-help-prevent-illness.html, Retrieved October 16, 2020.
- Klemm, R. Support Your Health with Nutrition. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/preventing-illness/support-your-health-with-nutrition, Retrieved October 16, 2020.
This material was funded by USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
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