(NC) Fall usually brings the excitement of a new routine, new school year, extracurricular activities and the cool weather we’re all likely craving after summer heat waves. While things may look a little different this year as we settle into our new normal, the dreaded cold and flu season will be upon us before we know it.
Making a few small lifestyle changes, like adding plenty of immune-boosting foods, can go a long way in helping us stay ahead of the flu. These simple steps from Jacklyn Villeneuve, registered dietitian at Loblaws, can help us reduce our chances of getting the flu and spreading it to others.
- Fill up half your plate with produce. We know that eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is beneficial for so many reasons, but did you know that their antioxidants are very important for our immune system as well? Vitamin C is just one antioxidant that has a protective effect. So, stock up on nutritious favourites like red bell peppers, broccoli, spinach, garlic, kiwi and citrus fruits.
- Don’t forget your proteins. Many common food sources of protein like fish, beef, oysters, eggs, beans, 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 can act as a substitute for getting a good night’s sleep and making sure you’re finding ways to manage stress. Rest gives our bodies 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 each year. The more people who get the flu shot, the less likely the flu is to be widespread and affect the most vulnerable. The flu shot is available at many locations that have an in-store pharmacy.