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8 Dietary Tips to Boost the Immune System during Flu Season


The flu is on everyone's minds lately. You know about the importance of hand washing and sneezing into your elbow, but are there more steps you could take to boost your immune system? Sure, you could buy some costly immunity-touting supplements. But why do that when you can boost your immune system just by making wise food choices each day? Here are some dietary tips to help boost your immunity for flu season:

1.  Eat Red Fruits and Vegetables

Why red? Studies have shown that red fruits and vegetables are especially helpful in boosting immunity and in increasing heart health levels. Try some tomatoes, red cabbage, pomegranate, cranberries, strawberries and pink grapefruit for lycopene and ellagic acid. Think of inventive ways to incorporate more of these foods into your diet. For instance, you can put diced tomatoes over that fish or chicken you're baking for dinner. Save leftover bits of vegetables in a freezer jar, and make soup when it is full.

2. Eat Yellow-Orange Fruits and Vegetables

Yellow and orange fruits and vegetables are also beneficial in boosting immune system health, as well as benefiting vision, heart health and skin hydration. These foods are rich in vitamin A. Try carrots, squash, pineapple and sweet potatoes.

3. Add Some Probiotics

Probiotics are small organisms that help maintain the natural balance of microflora in the intestines. Some types have been shown to be specifically helpful in preventing colds and improving immune response. You can find these in yogurts; look for varieties that tout probiotics (particularly the Lactobacillus casei and Lactobacillus reuteri strains) in the ingredient list.

4. Increase Your Vitamin C Intake

Vitamin C has long been touted for its benefits to the immune system. You can take a vitamin C supplement, but why not increase your intake by eating some delicious strawberries, kiwis, oranges, cantaloupe or watermelon?

5.  Drink Green Tea

Green tea has been shown to have many health benefits, among them immune system boosting. You can take a green tea extract supplement, or get the same benefit by drinking 6 cups of green tea daily.

6. Try Some Seafood

Seafood contains selenium, a potent antioxidant. Antioxidants are keys to immune system health, so it makes sense to increase your intake. Oily fish such as cod, salmon, sardines and mackerel also contain vitamin D, which boosts immunity and helps your body ward off viral infections such as the flu. Try eating seafood once or twice per week.

7.  Munch on Mushrooms

Yes, the lowly mushroom has immunity-boosting properties! They contain beta glucans, which are critical in warding off infection. Throw some mushrooms on a burger or add them to a soup or casserole to incorporate them easily into your diet.

8.  Add Nuts to Your Diet

You've probably heard of nuts' many health benefits, most notably their heart health-boosting omega 3 levels. But, they're also a good source of vitamin E, which helps build your immunity.

By choosing your foods wisely, you can go a long way towards protecting yourself from the many viruses out there. You will be glad you ate right when you see your health benefitting from your dietary choices.


Susan Braun is a freelance writer living with her husband, three daughters, 2 rabbits, 2 gerbils and hedgehog in Indiana.  She writes at and Associated Content.

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