A sore throat, runny nose, and achy body all mean that flu season is here! Germs abound this time of year and are sometimes hard to avoid, even with the best flu prevention. Even so, I believe in arming myself and my family for the battle against colds and the flu. In addition to getting our flu shots, washing our hands regularly, and getting plenty of rest every night, I keep the fridge stocked with these flu-fighting foods offering milk health benefits:
Milk: We know the milk health benefits build strong bones, but milk is also a flu-fighting beverage! Nutrients in milk have a unique combination of calcium and 8 other vitamins and minerals, including vitamin D. Research indicates that low levels of vitamin D may be linked to an increase in colds and flu. Vitamin-D fortified milk is one of the best dietary sources of vitamin D. Consuming at least three daily servings of milk every day provides 50 percent of the recommended daily requirements of this ‘D-lightful‘ vitamin.
Chicken Soup: Most moms default to chicken soup when a child gets the cold or flu. My mom did and I always make it for my children when they don’t feel well. Research backs us up, suggesting that chicken soup for a cold has an anti-inflammatory effect, which may ease symptoms of the cold and flu, as well as shorten upper-respiratory tract infections.
Yogurt: Probiotics, the healthy bacteria found in yogurt and cultured dairy foods, strengthen our immune system which is something we can all use during cold and flu season. The best probiotic foods include Greek yogurt, kefir, and yogurts that contain lactobacillus. Look for the “live and active cultures” seal on yogurt products to make sure you are getting the full benefits.
Bell Peppers: The newest addition to our snack time routine is mini red peppers. Not only are they sweet, crunchy and the perfect size for a toddler, but red peppers are loaded with vitamin C. Strawberries, broccoli, sweet potatoes, and carrots are also on my grocery list, as they are great sources of vitamins C and A, which aid in fighting infection.
Try our Strawberry Yogurt Smoothie. It incorporates many of these flu-fighting foods into one delicious drink your whole family will love.
In addition to annual flu shots, preventing the flu can be as easy as ensuring your family’s diet includes flu-fighting foods. What is your favorite way to include these flu-fighting foods in your diet? Share with us on Twitter by tweeting to @TheDairyRD.
Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN