Immune System Nutrition Tips for Flu Season

Immune System Nutrition Tips Beyond Peak Flu Season

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Help your immune system function at its best by consuming these powerful nutrients year-round.

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Small circular bowls filled with foods for immune system support, such as garlic, kiwi, ginger, oranges and seeds.


Flu season begins in October in the United States, and significant infection rates can persist as late as May. That's why it's important to support your immune health all year long.

Focusing on immune system nutrition year-round provides consistent support to your immune system. Start by incorporating these immune-supporting nutrients into your routine.

1. Protein

Many people turn to protein-rich poultry to help build muscle — but to support immune function? Yep, it can help with that too. A half cup of chopped chicken breast has approximately 20 grams of protein.

Proteins are digested down to their building blocks, amino acids. Your body not only uses amino acids to build muscle proteins, but research shows amino acids also nourish your immune cells. Immune cells are your body's internal defense system against infection, and they require amino acids to function and help keep you protected.

Don't like chicken? Pork, beef, soy (tofu, tempeh, edamame), yogurt, beans, eggs and protein-rich nutritional drinks like Ensure® Max Protein are good alternatives.

2. Probiotics

Both Greek and regular yogurt are rich in probiotics, a type of health-supporting bacteria. Once consumed, they live in the gastrointestinal tract and help support your immune system. Research also shows that probiotics play a key role in gut health by helping to improve gut barrier function, maintain the balance of microbiota and regulate immune response.

To make sure you're getting the most probiotic power out of your yogurt, look for "live and active cultures" on the label.

Don't like yogurt? You can get probiotics from fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kefir and kombucha.

3. Vitamin C

When you think of immune system nutrition, vitamin C might be the first thing that comes to mind. Citrus fruits are a well-known source of vitamin C, but bell peppers are one of the best foods for immune system support when it comes to consuming this key vitamin. A single cup of chopped bell peppers provides more than 100% of your daily vitamin C needs.

This water-soluble vitamin plays an important role in immune function. Not only does vitamin C help support the function of white blood cells, which help ward off infection, but it also works as an antioxidant, protecting immune cells from free-radical damage.

Don't like bell peppers? Broccoli, papaya, strawberries and citrus fruits such as grapefruits and oranges all contain vitamin C.

4. Vitamin D

Most milk is fortified with vitamin D. A single cup of fortified milk contains about 3mcg of vitamin D, accounting for nearly 15% of the daily recommended value for people up to age 70.

Focusing on your vitamin D intake is especially important during flu season, as vitamin D supports immune function in the human body. Most vitamin D in the body is produced through sun exposure, so the risk of vitamin D deficiency may increase during the dark days of fall and winter.

Don't like milk? Salmon and canned tuna are other sources of vitamin D. And, like dairy milk, many soy milks, breakfast cereals and orange juices are fortified with vitamin D.

By prioritizing immune system nutrition year-round, you can give your body the support it needs to function well throughout flu season.

Article originally published on April 5, 2023; updated Oct 3, 2023

Treating Symptoms of Stomach Flu | Abbott Nutrition

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Every flu season you probably stock up on tissues and cough medicine, but how prepared are you for the stomach flu? Even though the respiratory flu and the stomach flu share the same season, they are very different illnesses. "Stomach flu symptoms really come down to digestive issues such as cramps, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea," says Jennifer Williams, M.P.H., a research scientist at Abbott. While the stomach flu can strike at any time of year, 80 percent of cases will hit from November through April in the U.S. And, just like the respiratory flu, it's especially contagious.

This 7-step plan can help manage stomach flu symptoms and keep your family safe.

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What to Eat When You Feel Sick

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On average about 8% of the U.S. population gets sick from flu each season, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For many of them, eating is the last thing they’ll feel like doing. It’s common to feel this way, and your symptoms can drive down your appetite. Congestion can also accompany the flu and this can limit your sense of smell, which is linked to your taste buds, so a decrease in appetite may also be caused by your inability to taste foods. It’s okay to eat a little less when you’re fighting the flu, but you'll still need small amounts of the right foods and drinks to make sure you’re fueling your body with the energy and nutrients you need to recover and regain your strength. So even if you don’t want to eat, it’s important that you at least try to eat some of these immune-supporting foods

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