Ways to Boost Your Immune System for Defense Against the Flu

— Written By Lethia Lee and last updated by Cindy Nance

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. A strong immune system doesn’t guarantee your body can fight off every flu bug, but it is a powerful defense. Good nutrition is essential to a strong immune response.

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 sweet potatoes, 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 sunflower seeds, almonds, sunflower or safflower oil, hazelnuts, peanut butter or spinach. Hopefully you will use some of this information to boost your immune system to help fight back when it comes to the flu. This is the peak season for the flu and we need to take every precaution we can to stay healthy for ourselves and our loved ones, especially women with children and families caring for the elderly.

For more information contact Lethia Lee, EFNEP Assistant with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service at 910-592-7161.