Being sick with a cold or flu is misery either way, especially when symptoms include a loss of appetite. Although enjoying food and drink when you feel unwell can be a challenge, eating to prepare for cold and flu season doesn’t have to be difficult.
Focus on eating foods for a variety of essential nutrients to keep your immune system strong.
“Think of your immune system as a team with different players,” said registered dietitian Sue Mah. “Each player has an important role. Nutrients like vitamin A, C, D, E as well as zinc, protein and prebiotics are just some of the superstar players on Team Immunity.”
Mah shares five foods to include in everyday eating to support a strong immune system.
- Squash is packed with beta-carotene which gets converted into vitamin A. You can also find beta-carotene in carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, kale, cantaloupe and bell peppers. So go ahead and eat in colour.
- Eggs are a quick, versatile and convenient way to get some vitamin D through the cold winter months. Eggs are an economical source of protein that help build antibodies. Try them in the morning with breakfast, at lunch or even at dinner.
- Orange Juice provides key nutrients such as vitamin C, folate, potassium and thiamin. Fortified juices also contain vitamin D to help support the immune system during cold and flu season and all year long.
- Nuts and seeds are foods filled with antioxidants such as vitamin E and zinc. Zinc contributes to the normal function of the immune system. Bonus: nuts and seeds are terrific for plant-based protein.
- Garlic, onions and leeks all belong to the allium family of veggies and contain prebiotics which act as food for the good, probiotic bacteria in your gut. Prebiotics are important for both our gut and immune health. Add these savoury ingredients to your fall and winter dishes not just for flavour, but for a delicious dose of prebiotics too.
“Consider putting these foods on your grocery list regularly,” said Mah. “And have fun combining them in snacks and meals all year long.”