Chef Dishes Up Tips on Flu-Fighting Foods

Eating healthfully is one step in avoiding the worst of the flu season, and here are a few of the best foods to add to your flu-season diet.

Yogurt helps maintain a healthy digestive system.

Yogurt helps maintain a healthy digestive system.

Shutterstock/Matka Wariatka

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Hamilton Township, New Jersey – Each year, as the fall rolls around, people begin bracing for the flu season. And rightfully so. According to the Center for Diseases Control and Prevention, up to 20 percent of the U.S. population gets the flu every year. This results in approximately 200,000 people being hospitalized because of complications, and around 36,000 people dying from flu-related causes each year.

“While it is important to eat healthfully all year, it is especially so during the flu season,” says John Kuropatwa, executive chef of Spigola Ristorante, located in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. “You need all the help you can get, to help avoid getting the flu. Many people do not realize they can help prevent illnesses by boosting their immune system.”

In fact, the American Dietetic Association reports that, while the flu is a viral illness, you can help avoid it by eating healthfully. Specifically, they recommend eating plenty of fruits and vegetables each day, because those foods contain phytonutrients, which can help boost the immune system. When striving to boost your immune system to help resist the flu, keep the following flu-fighting foods in mind:

Yogurt – Probiotics contain live, active cultures. These healthy bacteria help keep your intestinal track free of germs.

Mushrooms help to increase the activity level of white blood cells, which helps keep you healthier.

Garlic helps fight bacteria and infection because of the allicin it contains, which is a powerful and protective compound.

Red bell peppers helps boost your immune system because they contain phytochemicals, Vitamin C and beta carotene.

Broccoli contains powerful antioxidants that help keep the body healthy.

Tea contains polyphenols and antioxidants that help provide protection.

Turmeric – This powerful spice is a polyphenol that helps maintain health.

Beef contains zinc, which helps boost the immune system; it can also be found in fortified breakfast cereals, crab, chickpeas and cashews.

Sweet potatoes contain Vitamin A, which helps regulate the immune system and fight off infection. Vitamin A can also be found in carrots, spinach, kale and cantaloupe.

Brazil nuts contain an abundance of selenium, which plays a role in maintaining a healthy immune system. Other sources of selenium include noodles, oatmeal and walnuts.

“This is a great time to really make an effort to incorporate these foods into your daily diet,” Kuropatwa says. “The flu is in the news daily, and we can use all the help we can muster to try and avoid it. Start with what you eat at each meal. These foods are tasty, and they will also help protect you, this flu season.”

Spigola is a modern Italian restaurant based in Hamilton Township, New Jersey. The restaurant features a full menu of traditional and modern Italian cuisine, as well as an extensive wine list and bar. To learn more about Spigola, visit the website.