Everyday foods can flex their chemical muscles and help you stay healthy this flu season, according to Carl Germano, a New York registered clinical nutritionist, researcher, and author with more than 30 years experience in complementary nutritional therapy and product development.
Top “Flu Buster” Foods
- Whey Protein: Popular among the bodybuilding crowd, whey protein contains key substances called immunoglobulins or immune peptides that support a healthy immune system.
- Cultured Yogurt: Check labels of yogurt products for active cultures representing a class of “friendly” bacteria (probiotics) found throughout the GI tract. The intestinal tract is the largest immune organ in the body, and probiotics help fend off germs that make you sick.
- Mushrooms: Once thought to be void of nutrients, recent research shows that most mushroom varieties contain antiviral constituents called polysaccharides that shore up the immune system.
- Elderberry: Cooked into jam and syrup, or mixed with cranberries for a special sauce, elderberries have been shown to prevent replication of the flu virus. Preliminary findings suggest that the berries may speed recovery from the flu.
- Garlic: This aromatic bulb contains several constituents, such as allicin, with proven antimicrobial effects. Warding off nasty bugs by generously adding garlic to foods may boost immune resistance and help prevent flu.
- Oats: In addition to the grain’s cholesterol-lowering effects, components in oats called beta glucans are powerful immune regulating compounds that have been studied with positive effects in animals and humans.
Honorable mentions: Fish for omega 3’s, nuts for zinc and selenium, sweet potatoes for beta carotene, and citrus fruits for vitamin C are all important nutrients that support a healthy immune system.
“Daily exercise, healthy diet, supplements, being hydrated, and getting adequate rest, help provide a potent arsenal to prevent the flu,” says Germano, who is also Chief Science Officer for Surgex. “Another healthy tip that can never be said enough? Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently!”
When is the Flu Contagious?
Most healthy adults may be able to infect others beginning 1 day before symptoms develop and up to 5-7 days after becoming sick. Children may pass the virus for longer than seven days. Symptoms start one to four days after the virus enters the body. That means that you may be able to pass on the flu to someone else before you know you are sick, as well as while you are sick. Some persons can be infected with the flu virus but have no symptoms. During this time, those persons may still spread the virus to others, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Who Should Get a Flu Shot?
Nearly everyone. For the first time, the CDC is recommending that everyone over six months old be vaccinated to protect themselves and others from flu symptoms and complications that can put the heart, liver, kidneys, intestines, and brain at risk.