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Four in 10 Americans, and nearly half of all women, plan to get a flu shot this season, according to a recent survey from interclick. While getting a flu shot is certainly a good way to avoid getting sick this winter, there may be more you can do. You probably know that washing your hands regularly and getting enough sleep is important when it comes to warding off germs, but did you know that even what you eat can play a role in boosting your immunity?
Many people are deficient in Vitamin D, which is found in low-fat milk, yet this nutrient maybe one of the most important in preventing the flu. A recent study by the Annals of Internal Medicine show that those with lowest levels of vitamin D reported having significantly more recent colds or flu bouts than those with higher levels of vitamin D. In addition to low-fat milk, other great sources of Vitamin D are low-fat salmon.
You've probably heard that drinking plenty of fluids is important for staying healthy, but don't assume this means all fluids. Alcohol is a particular beverage to be wary of this winter as one study showed that drinking large amounts can impair the immune system for at least 24 hours.
Red Bell Pepper:
You probably think of citrus fruits when it comes to getting in more immunity-boosting vitamin C, but red bell peppers actually have 3 times the vitamin C of an orange. While taking mega-doses of vitamin C won't prevent coming down with a cold, getting plenty of vitamin C on a day to day basis is important for helping you beat sickness faster.
Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which may help white blood cells avoid free radical damage so that they will be stronger when it comes to fighting off illness. In fact, one study found that subjects on a tomato-rich diet sustained 38% less damage to their white blood cells over 3 weeks, versus those who were not on a tomato-rich diet. In addition to fresh tomatoes, try incorporating more tomato sauce and salsa into your daily meals.
Not only does the heart-healthy fat in olive oil help reduce inflammation that is present in many diseases, it is also essential for absorbing many immunity-boosting nutrients, namely the fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble, meaning they need to be consumed with fat to be absorbed by the body. So drizzle some olive oil over your salmon fillet or dress your salad with an olive oil an vinegar combination. Other ways to enjoy healthy fats include noshing on nuts or fresh avocado.
So swing by the grocery store and stock up on these foods to double your defense against illness this season!
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