Did you know certain foods help boost your immune system and avoid things like the common cold and flu—even during a pandemic? Though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states the U.S. is experiencing decreased influenza this year as a result of the pandemic, they attribute the decline to less people seeking medical care (for cold and flu-like symptoms) as well as widespread measures to slow the transmission of COVID-19 (like social distancing and mask-wearing).
The fact is the common cold and flu aren’t going away. So, the skilled specialists at Amory Urgent Care have a few tips that can help you avoid getting sick year after year.
Eight vitamins and minerals you need for a healthy immune system
Maintaining a healthy diet helps boost your immune system naturally. Here are eight vitamins and minerals that play an essential part in keeping you healthy:
- Vitamin C
Vitamin C can help prevent infections, like the common cold and flu, or shorten their length. These vitamin C-rich foods prevent flu and cold symptoms: spinach, kale, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, strawberries and papaya.
- Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that can also help fight off infection and is critical for proper immune system function. Be sure to get plenty of vitamin E with these high-fat plant foods: almonds, peanuts, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and oils (e.g., sunflower, safflower and soybean).
- Vitamin A
Boost your immune system with vitamin A, another infection-fighter that also adds some color to your plate with foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, butternut squash, cantaloupe and any dark, leafy green vegetable.
- Vitamin D
Vitamin D is one of the most important and powerful nutrients for a healthy immune system. Food sources include salmon, mackerel, tuna, sardines and vitamin D fortified milk, orange juice and cereals.
- Folate and folic acid
Folate and folic acid are essential for maintaining a proper immune response. Keep your immunity high and functioning well by adding more beans, lentils, leafy green vegetables and avocados to your plate.
Iron is essential for helping the immune cells grow and mature so they can help protect you from infection. These iron-rich foods prevent flu and cold symptoms: red meat (in limited quantities), chicken, turkey, canned sardines, oysters, clams, mussels and canned light tuna. It is also found in vegetarian options like beans, broccoli, kale and iron-fortified cereals.
Selenium, in limited quantities, helps the immune system prevent infections. Food options include seafood (e.g., tuna, halibut and sardines), meat and liver, poultry, and cottage cheese.
Zinc is essential for the production of new immune cells. Keep your immune system strong by adding these to your plate: oysters, crab, lean meats and poultry, baked beans, yogurt and chickpeas.
These foods prevent flu and colds
Stay healthy this winter with a few delicious and immune-boosting meal options:
- Maple-nut granola with almonds, sunflower seeds and dried berries
- Chicken stew with apples, carrots and parsnips
- Half-hour chili with canned beans, tomatoes and a whole grain (e.g., bulgur wheat or brown rice)
- Curried squash and chicken soup with spinach
- Black bean quesadillas and a mixed salad
It’s time to avoid the common cold and flu and fuel your body with the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain a healthy immune system. Amory Urgent Care is open seven days a week, from 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.