Prevent the flu with healthy diet!

October 6, 2009

Each year an estimated 25–50 million cases of the flu are reported in the U.S. This year, in addition to the familiar seasonal flu, the H1N1 flu is also a threat. Maintaining a strong and healthy immune system is key to preventing the flu.

One way to keep your immune system running optimally is to consume a healthy diet and get plenty of rest. Many people don’t realize that 70-80% of your immune system is found in your digestive tract. This means that a healthy digestive tract equals a healthy immune system!

The ideal immune-enhancing diet consists of:

  • at least 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables (choose a variety of colors for optimal benefit)
  • whole grains such as whole grain breads and cereals, brown rice, and whole wheat pasta;
  • lean proteins such as fish, poultry (without the skin), beans, eggs, and soy products;
  • healthy fats such as olive oil, nuts, avocado, and omega-3 rich fishes such as salmon and halibut;
  • low fat dairy products such as milk and yogurt.

In addition to consuming a wide range of nutritious foods, you can keep your body healthy by consuming probiotics each day. Probiotics are beneficial cultures that increase the number of good bacteria in the intestinal tract. These bacteria can help support immunity as well as improve digestive health and nutrient absorption. Probiotics can be consumed through dairy products, some dry foods (such as cereals and bars), as well as supplements.

Here is an example of an immune enhancing diet:

Breakfast: 1 cup cooked oatmeal 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed 1 cup mixed berries 1 or 2 egg whites 2.7 ounces Yakult dairy beverage

Lunch: 3 cups spinach salad with added tomatoes, shredded carrots, ½ cup beans + 1 Tbsp olive oil + vinegar dressing 3 ounces skinless chicken breast 1 whole wheat dinner roll 1 cup yogurt (enhanced with probiotic bacteria)

Dinner: 3 ounces baked salmon 1 cup steamed broccoli 2/3 cup cooked brown rice 1 cup cantaloupe

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