With the arrival of Fall comes the excitement of a fresh routine and new activities, but it can also mean the stress of the impending flu season. This year be mindful of including plenty of immune-boosting foods in your diet and learn which other lifestyle factors can help prevent the flu. These steps not only help us minimize our own odds of getting the flu, but in turn keep us from spreading it to others.
Let’s do what we can this year to make small lifestyle changes that will go a long way in helping us stay ahead of the flu:
- Get your half plate of fruits and veggies. We know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is beneficial for so many different reasons, but did you know that the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables are very important for our immune system as well? Vitamin C is just one form of antioxidant in fruits and vegetables that has a protective effect. Aim to try new fruits and vegetables regularly to ensure you are getting a wide variety.
- Don’t forget protein foods. Many common food sources of protein like fish, beef, oysters, eggs, beans and nuts and seeds are also rich in zinc. Both protein and zinc are important nutrients for our immune health. Aim to include a source of protein at each meal and snack.
- Welcome probiotics. Did you know that probiotics in food can help us strengthen our immune system? Look for yogurt and kefir with added probiotics to make sure you have a strong population of friendly bacteria in your gut. We can also get probiotics from supplements. It is best to talk to your doctor or pharmacist if you are considering taking a supplement.
- Remember to rest. No foods act as a substitute for proper rest! This includes getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you are finding ways to manage your stress. Rest gives our body the chance to recuperate and fight off potential invaders.
- Get your flu shot. Regardless of our food and lifestyle choices, getting the flu shot is something we should all be doing yearly. The more people who get the flu shot, the less likely it is to be widespread and affect the most vulnerable of people. The flu shot is available at all Loblaws stores where there is an in-store pharmacy.
Lisa Ireland is a registered dietitian with Loblaws in Pickering. She is part of a network of more than 70 dietitians who provide services like one-on-one consultations, assisted shopping, school tours and recipe ideas at locations across the country.