Can You Fight the Flu with Food?

Originally published in 2019, the information stands true … and it has never been more important to keep your family healthy than it is right now.

You’ve taken your kids for their flu shots, you’ve stocked up on antibacterial soap and you’ve instructed your children to cough in their sleeve, to not share any drinks and to run for the hills when someone sneezes. But, is the food they are eating also helping to prevent the illnesses so prevalent at this time of year? Providing your family with foods known to boost the immune system will go a long way toward fighting off cold and flu causing germs. Increase foods rich in antioxidants. Foods with high levels of beta-carotene, vitamin C and vitamin E.

Our mango and kale salad is a perfect immune booster.

Here are some foods (& recipes) to rev up your immune system:

• Broccoli: Broccoli & Cauliflower with lemon and chives

• Carrots: Roasted Rainbow Carrots

• Corn: Corn Basil Salad or Cabbage Corn Slaw

• Peaches: Peach, Proscuitto & Arugula Salad, Rustic Peach Tart

• Sweet potato: Sweet Potato fries, Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes

• Tomatoes: Stacked Tomato Salad, Tomato Corn Pie Dreamy Creamy Tomato Soup

• Mango: Mango, Kale & Quinoa Salad, Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

• Peppers: Three Pepper RisottoHearty Pepper, Potato & Sausage Roast

• Berries: Make a Berry Smoothie, a Berry Breakfast Bowl. Would a Berry Mojito count?

One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken

Zinc and selenium are also known to aid in immune health. They can be found in:
• Red Meat: Steak Salad
• Poultry: One Skillet Mediterranean Chicken
• Fortified Cereals and BreadsL: Try Ezekiel Bread
• Shellfish: Why shrimp is good for you.

Yogurt is a great source of probiotics.

Studies show garlic is great at fighting off the common cold.
Try our Rustic Tomato Garlic Soup

Try our hummus and veggie sandwich.

• Serve veggies raw.
 Keep them on hand at all times. When kids are hungry, they will grab what is accessible. Raw vegetables provide more nutrients than cooked ones.

• Offer a variety of food. Variety ensures your kids are getting all the vitamins they need and will help to develop their palate, so they enjoy a lifetime of healthy eating.

• Cut down on sugary snacks and eliminate sugary drinks. Sugar can decrease the body’s ability to fight off infection. Try to reserve treats for special occasions.

• It is o.k. to doctor vegetables with butter or cheese once in a while. While this may not be the healthiest way to ingest produce, it will allow a picky eater to get their daily dose and will get them used to the taste and texture.

• Increase water intake. Just because they are not out in the hot sun anymore, doesn’t mean they can’t dehydrate. Ensure your kids get enough water every day by encouraging them to have an 8 ounce glass first thing in the morning and before each meal or snack. Keep a pitched of fruit-infused water on your counter.

• Make sure they are getting enough sleep. (Find out how much sleep kids need.)

• Regular exercise is important to maintaining a healthy immune system.

• Be in tune to your child’s stress levels. Even young children can suffer from stress, which can decrease the effectiveness of their immune system.

Speaking of stress, having a child sick with the flu or a stomach bug during the next couple of months will cause your stress level to shoot sky-high. Prevention is key for a healthier, happier holiday season. Encouraging smart habits now is an early holiday gift for your whole family.

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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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