Dr. Nandi: Eat this, not that to fight colds and flu

Posted at 5:55 PM, Sep 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-20 17:55:08-04

You’ve heard me say food is medicine. And it’s especially important when it comes to fighting colds or the flu.

Healthy foods strengthen your immune system, reduce inflammation, allowing your body to fight off germs more easily.

What you eat also impacts your intestines - this is important because of the numerous antibodies and immune cells that live there.  

Eating a variety of plant-based foods along with nuts, seeds, lean protein and whole grains provides you with vitamins and minerals that can boost your immunity.

But some foods are more beneficial than others. For instance: almonds, peanuts and sunflower seeds contain antioxidants. These can help protect cells and up your levels of infection-fighting antibodies.

Vitamin A is essential in maintaining a strong immune system and can be found in carrots and sweet potatoes.  

Orange juice and fatty fish like salmon and sardines have Vitamin D which boosts your immune system as does folic acid found in leafy greens, beans and peas.  

And my favorite, chickpeas, along with bananas and tuna contain Vitamin B6 which is essential for our immune systems to function. 

Just as eating nutrient-rich foods keeps your body strong and helps to fight off germs, there are also foods you should avoid because they harm your immune system.  

Here are my prescriptions:

  1. Limit red meat and fried foods. These can trigger or increase inflammation and could raise your cancer risk. 
  2. Skip the soda.  Research has found soda drinkers tend to be low on calcium, Vitamin A and magnesium.
  3. Go easy on the salt as it can promote inflammation. 
  4. Watch your intake of sugar.  It can target cells that battle bad bacteria thereby suppressing the immune system.  

While there is no way you can completely ward off illness, eating the right foods can certainly aid in fending off colds and viruses. 

Prevention is key, so in addition to eating a well-balanced diet, be sure to be extra-diligent with washing your hands, stay active, get enough sleep and get your flu shot.

Together these’ll go a long way in helping you stay sick-free during the upcoming cold and flu season.