Immune-boosting foods may add to flu defense

January 18, 2013
Immune-boosting foods may add to flu defense
Nutritional deficiencies impede your ability to fight infection, expert cautions.

(HealthDay)—As U.S. health officials recommend flu shots and frequent hand washing for protection during this season's influenza outbreak, dietitians point to another significant defense weapon: healthy foods.

Immune-boosting foods can improve your ability to ward off the flu and other health problems, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Even a small nutritional deficiency can affect the body's ability to stay healthy, said Heather Mangieri, a registered dietitian and academy spokesperson.

"A strong immune system doesn't guarantee your body can fight off every , but it is a powerful defense," said Mangieri in an academy news release. "Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune response."

Mangieri provided the following overview of foods that may boost the immune system:

  • Protein is an essential part of your body's defense system. Sources of protein include seafood, lean meat, poultry, eggs, beans and peas, soy products and unsalted nuts and seeds.
  • Vitamin A helps prevent infections by keeping the skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, lungs and intestines healthy. This nutrient, found in , carrots, kale, spinach and red bell peppers, also helps the body regulate the immune system.
  • Vitamin C triggers the production of immune-boosting antibodies. Oranges, grapefruit, strawberries and tangerines are among the foods rich in vitamin C.
  • Vitamin E is an antioxidant that may provide a boost to the immune system. People who want to get more vitamin E in their diet should eat , almonds, sunflower or safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter or spinach.
  • Some believe that zinc, a nutrient found in lean beef, wheat germ, crab, , sunflower seeds, black-eyed peas, almonds, milk and tofu, may also improve functioning of the immune system.
If you're unsure about what foods to eat to boost your immune system, Mangieri said a registered dietitian can help.

"A registered dietitian can help ensure you're getting the nutrients your body needs to function and protect itself," Mangieri explained.

Explore further: Boost your immune system with a healthy lifestyle

More information: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides more information on the seasonal flu.

Related Stories

Boost your immune system with a healthy lifestyle

May 18, 2012
Your immune system is your defense against disease. Its many different parts need to work in balance and harmony to protect our bodies from harmful germs and viruses; in essence to attack and destroy any they find.

Nutritionists offer tips for kids' snacks, lunches

September 5, 2011
University of Maine nutritionists are available to offer advice for parents and guardians looking to pack healthy -- and appealing -- lunchboxes for children and adolescents, and to identify the benefits of school-prepared ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

High-dose vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles for children

July 18, 2017
Giving children high doses of vitamin D doesn't appear to reduce the winter sniffles, a new study has found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.