With all the holiday season food being consumed this time of year while flu season peaks, it becomes even more vital to balance our diets with foods and vitamins that will keep us hearty, happy, and healthy.
In the winter, our bodies receive fewer vital nutrients like sunlight. We lack the Vitamin D that comes from being in the sun, since we often opt to stay indoors to avoid the blistering cold. Coupled with being crammed together in malls, offices, homes and airports, our bodies can use a little boost to our natural defenses in warding off catching a cold or flu.
Ideally, it's better to get the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need through real food, since all the nutrients in the food often work together to enhance absorption. Below is a list of the top vitamins and foods to eat to stay healthy during flu season.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Omega-3 fats perform a number of jobs - the top benefits being its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, meaning they might promote healthier brain cells and less deterioration of the brain. Studies even show people who consume omega-3s regularly are less likely to be depressed.
Ways to incorporate it in your diet: Fish, vegetable oils, flaxseed, walnuts, and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach all have high omega-3 benefits.
Sometimes called the “sunshine vitamin”, Vitamin D is produced in your skin naturally when it’s directly exposed to sunlight. Many people also get it through certain foods and supplements to ensure adequate levels of the vitamin in their blood. An adequate amount of vitamin D is essential for improved resistance against certain diseases, which comes in handy during flu season.
Ways to incorporate it in your diet: Some dairy products like milk, orange juice and cereal are fortified with Vitamin D. Also, fatty fish such as tuna, mackerel and salmon are Vitamin D sufficient.
It is widely believed that maintaining adequate vitamin B12 levels may support bone health. In fact, low blood levels of this vitamin have been associated with an increased risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin B12 is also involved in red blood cell formation. When vitamin B12 levels are too low, the production of red blood cells is altered, causing megaloblastic anemia.
Ways to incorporate it in your diet: Clams, sardines, beef, animal liver and kidneys are all rich in Vitamin B12.
Fruits and Berries
Fruits and berries are among the healthiest foods on the planet. And with good reason. For one, berries are loaded with antioxidants, which helps control free radicals in your body. Studies also suggest fruits and berries may protect cells from high blood sugar levels, help increase insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar and insulin response to high-carb meals.
Ways to incorporate it in your diet: Many fruits taste delicious when you add them to your breakfast cereal or oatmeal. You can never go wrong with a fruit and berries smoothie in the morning.
Most vegetables are naturally low in fat and calories and none have cholesterol, in their natural form without sauces or seasonings. Vegetables are important sources of many nutrients, including potassium, dietary fiber, folate (folic acid), vitamin A, and vitamin C. The dietary fiber found in vegetables helps lower blood cholesterol levels and may lower risk of heart disease. Fiber-containing foods also provide a feeling of satiety with fewer calories.
Ways to incorporate it in your diet: Green smoothies, salads, and tasty side dishes are perfect ways to get your daily servings of vegetables.
Eating a diet rich in the above vitamins, vegetables and fruits, as part of an overall healthy diet, can greatly reduce your health risks during this flu season. Check out our meal plans to get a jumpstart on eating healthy to stay healthy!