What can you do to prevent colds and flu? Make healthy food choices! The foods you eat can have a big impact on your immune system’s ability to fight off colds and flu.
Fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins C, A and E, as well as antioxidants and phytonutrients that support the immune system. Veggies and fruits that are purple, blue, red, orange and yellow are especially high in vitamins and antioxidants that help the immune system be strong and work well.
Sources of lean protein including lean meats, legumes, eggs, and low fat dairy foods provide amino acids, iron and zinc which are needed to build and maintain the immune system.
Whole grains contain zinc and selenium, antioxidants that have been shown to boost immunity.
Eating whole foods is better than taking supplements. Studies show that colds are not prevented by taking large doses of Vitamin C, or other supplements, but eating a healthy diet, including 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, can help keep colds away. This is because food provides a whole nutritional package-many vitamins, minerals and antioxidants that help the body fight off infection.
Besides eating well, there are several other things you can do to stay healthy:
Wash your hands-many cold and flu germs are picked up by touching something that has the germ on it. Wash hands frequently, with warm soapy water, and try not to touch your face, eyes, nose or mouth.
Get enough rest-it’s essential for a healthy immune system. And, although everyone is different, experts recommend at least 7 hours of good sleep each night.
Exercise-moderate exercise strengthens the immune system, and studies show that people, who exercise, don’t get sick as often as people who don’t exercise.
Stay hydrated-drink plenty of water to keep mucous membranes moist-that makes it harder for cold and flu germs to settle into your nose or lungs. Avoid sodas-the high sugar content just adds unnecessary calories.
Don’t share-College students often think nothing of sharing food, drinks, and make-up with friends. It’s also a great way to share colds. Since you may have the germ before you have symptoms (or your friend may have the germ), just say no to sharing.