Health & Medicine

It’s a nasty flu this year. Here are foods that can help you fight it.

Research showed that consuming flavonoids — the kind of antioxidants in blueberries — made adults 33 percent less likely to catch a cold than those who didn’t eat flavonoid-rich foods.
Research showed that consuming flavonoids — the kind of antioxidants in blueberries — made adults 33 percent less likely to catch a cold than those who didn’t eat flavonoid-rich foods. Dreamstime/TNS

The flu has hit hard this year with a particularly nasty strain of the virus that has slammed into Kentucky without mercy. As the Herald-Leader reports, of the 36 flu-related deaths reported in Kentucky this season, two victims were children, according to the Cabinet for Health and Family Services.

The average age of the other 34 people who have died of the flu this season was 75, cabinet officials said last week.

For the fourth consecutive week, as of Jan. 12, the state health department reported “widespread” flu activity, indicating flu-like activity or outbreaks in at least half of the regions in the state. There have been 49 cases of influenza reported in Kentucky’s long-term care centers, the department reported.

What can you to protect yourself?

Some experts are advising that in addition to the usual rules about getting your flu shot, washing your hands more often and getting enough sleep, you should think about shifting your diet toward foods that might boost your immunity.

Some nutritional experts suggest stocking up on foods that might help keep you healthy during the peak of flu season. Now, we all know that chicken noodle soup is a go-to elixir and not just for emotional reasons. It’s a powerhouse of anti-inflammatory properties.

“When we’re sick, we don’t want to eat and don’t want to drink, but you need to continue to eat and give your body the nutrients and energy you need for the immune system to function properly,” Michael P. Angarone, assistant professor of infectious diseases and medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, told Fox.

But here are some foods you might not have thought about in terms of helping shield you during what is being called a deadly flu season. Try increasing the probiotics in your menu, because that boosts the health and wellness of your gut, which could aid your immune system. It’s pretty easy to do, too. Why not have some Greek yogurt at breakfast and dress up your hot dog with sauerkraut?

“Probiotics are healthy micro-organisms that can help support bacterial balance in the gut,” dietitian Jaime Mass told Fox.

Another good immune booster is ginger tea, a zesty and soothing choice for cold weather. In a review published in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, researchers found that ginger’s potent anti-inflammatory properties were key in the root’s power to combat a cold or flu.

Another easy pick is blueberries, which are bursting with antioxidants that might help treat and prevent coughs and colds, according to Today. Research conducted by the University of Auckland showed that consuming flavonoids — the kind of antioxidants found in blueberries — made adults 33 percent less likely to catch a cold than those who didn’t eat flavonoid-rich foods. You also tuck into some oranges, with their famed Vitamin C, the traditional antioxidant.

You might also want to stock up on salmon, chicken, lamb, spinach, sesame seeds, lentils and chickpeas, all of which have loads of zinc. The jury remains out on how effective zinc is in reducing cold symptoms, but some studies have showed promise. As Today reported, the Journal of Family Practice published a study examining the effects of zinc on the common cold in children ages 1 to 10.

Researchers found that zinc, in comparison to a placebo, significantly reduced the severity and duration of symptoms when taken within 24 hours of the onset of cold symptoms. They also found that children who took 15 mg. of zinc daily for seven months were a lot less likely to catch a cold during flu season.

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