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Foods can boost your immune system

Karen D'Souza
The Mercury News

Some 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 also think about shifting your diet toward foods that could 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 also 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,” Dr. Michael P. Angarone, assistant professor of infectious diseases and medical education at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, said.

Suggestions: 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 microorganisms that can help support bacterial balance in the gut,” dietitian Jaime Mass said.

Cup of goodness: 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 anti-oxidants that might help treat and prevent coughs and colds.

According to research conducted by the University of Auckland, consuming flavonoids — the kind of antioxidants found in blueberries — made adults 33 percent less likely to catch a cold than those who did not eat flavonoid-rich foods. You can also dig into some oranges with their famed Vitamin C, the traditional antioxidant.

While you’re at it, you might want to stock up on salmon, chicken, lamb, spinach, sesame seeds, lentils and chickpeas, all of which have loads of zinc.

While the jury is still out on how effective zinc is in terms of reducing cold symptoms, some studies have showed promise. The Journal of Family Practice published a study examining the effects of zinc on the common cold in children ages 1 to 10 years old.

Researchers found that zinc, in comparison to a placebo, signifi-cantly 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 get sick during flu season.