The flu season is showing no signs of slowing down. As of mid-January, there were close to 12,500 confirmed cases of influenza across Canada, including 10 deaths.
Some experts predict this flu season will be not only more severe than usual, but could last longer, into late spring.
When it comes to prevention, the usual advice still holds true: get vaccinated, wash your hands often and keep them away from your face, disinfect surfaces you often touch, and so on.
But you can also eat your way to a more robust immune system, says Fresh n’ Lean, a U.S.-based organic meal delivery company. It consulted physicians and nutritionists for their recommendations:
Get your vitamin D. Studies show it can help. The best way to get it is by sitting in natural sunlight each day. Eating foods such as fresh fish and eggs and taking supplements can up your levels of the sunshine vitamin.
Go with your gut. The best way to boost your immune system is through optimal gastro-intestinal health. “It’s estimated that 70 to 80 per cent of our immune-system cells are in our GI tract,” says a Fresh n’ Lean press release. That means adding such probiotic-rich foods as yogurt, kombucha or kimchi to the diet.
Eschew sugar. A little is okay, such as the sugars naturally found in fruit (fructose) and dairy (lactose). Eating too much of the refined stuff can increase inflammation in the body, which reduces the body’s ability to ward off viruses.
Eat oily fish such as salmon or mackerel, say Fresh n’ Lean’s expert panel. The omega-3 fatty acids they contain help to reduce inflammation. Fish oil is full of DHA, which has been shown to improve white blood cell activity.
Go green. “If it’s green, it’s probably good for you. Cruciferous vegetables, including kale, broccoli and cauliflower are especially beneficial because they aid our detox systems,” says the release.
Drink more water. Most of us don’t get as thirsty in winter as we do in warmer weather. But our bodies still need to stay hydrated to both maintain and improve the immune system