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Certain Food May Help Combat Flu

With flu season coming on in full swing, eating healthily is all the important. Add a few of these recommendations from a New Jersey restaurant's executive chef.

Each year, as the fall rolls around, people begin bracing for the flu season. And rightfully so. According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, up to 20% of the American population gets the flu every year. This results in approximately 200,000 people being hospitalized because of flu-like complications, and around 36,000 people dying from flu-related causes each year.

“While it is important to eat healthfully all year, it is especially so during the flu season,” says John Kuropatwa, executive chef of Spigola Ristorante, located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. “You need all the help you can get, to help avoid getting the flu. Many people do not realize they can help prevent illnesses by boosting their immune system.”

In fact, the American Dietetic Association reports that, while the flu is a viral illness, you can help avoid it by eating healthfully. Specifically, they recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day, because those foods contain phytonutrients, which can help boost the immune system. When striving to boost your immune system to help resist the flu, keep the following flu-fighting foods in mind:

  • Yogurt—Probiotics contain live, active cultures. These healthy bacteria help keep your intestinal track free of germs.
  • Mushrooms—These help to increase the activity level of white blood cells, which helps to keep you healthier.
  • Garlic—Helping fight bacteria and infection because of the allicin it contains, garlic is a powerful and protective compound.
  • Red bell peppers—These veggies help boost your immune system because they contain phytochemicals, vitamin C and beta carotene.
  • Broccoli—It contains powerful antioxidants that help keep the body healthy.
  • Tea—It has polyphenols and antioxidants that help provide protection.
  • Turmeric—This powerful spice is a polyphenol that helps maintain health.
  • Beef—It contains zinc, which helps boost the immune system. Zinc can also be found in fortified breakfast cereals, crab, chickpeas, and cashews.
  • Sweet potatoes—These contain vitamin A, which helps to regulate the immune system and fight off infection. Vitamin A can also be found in carrots, spinach, kale, and cantaloupe.
  • Brazil nuts—These nuts contain an abundance of selenium, which plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Other sources of selenium include noodles, oatmeal, and walnuts.

“This is a great time to really make an effort to incorporate these foods into your daily diet,” added Kuropatwa. “The flu is in the news daily, and we can use all the help we can muster to try and avoid it. Start with what you eat at each meal. These foods are tasty, and they will also help protect you, this flu season.”

Sources: American Dietetic Association. Fighting the Cold and Flu. December 2008.
Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Seasonal Influenza.

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