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Gear up for flu season with these immune-boosting foods

Flu season is just around the corner, and though the U.S. Centers for Disease and Control recommends that anyone older than 6 months is eligible for the flu shot, adults who are 65 and older and anyone with diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease are some of the groups who should be given priority.

Aside from getting the flu shot, you can take precautions to protect yourself and others by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your eyes and mouth, frequently disinfecting common surfaces in your home and at work, drinking plenty of fluids, managing your stress and staying home from work when you are sick. There are also some great immune-boosting foods that you should consider adding to your diet during flu season. Here are some of the best:

  • Steep a mug of piping hot tea. Black, green and oolong teas have the powerful antioxidant quercetin and the amino acid L-theanine, which can boost your immune system. Decaffeinated teas are fine but herbal teas won’t do the trick because they don’t have L-theanine.
  • Eat yogurt for breakfast or a snack. Not only is it a great source of protein but it’s also rich in probiotics – good bacteria that line the gut and keep bad bacteria from causing infections.
  • Cook up some shellfish, like oyster, crabs and clams. They contain selenium, which help the white blood cells produce cytokines – the proteins that can clear the flu virus out of our bodies.
  • Mushrooms are a mighty source of vitamins and antioxidants. They have been shown to increase the production of white blood cells, which can help your body beat viral infections. They also have high amounts of selenium to help resist the flu.
  • Chicken noodle soup is the classic American idea of homemade medicine, and while it’s delicious, tomato soup might actually be a better idea. Tomatoes are rich in vitamin C, which is good for the immune system. In fact, one tomato has 40 percent of your daily vitamin C requirements! Tomatoes also have the antioxidant lycopene, which can reduce the risk of free radical damage to white blood cells.
  • Barley and oats, which are both delicious, are complex grains that are good for the body for many reasons, also contain beta-glucan, a type of fiber that has antimicrobial and antioxidant powers that decrease wound healing time, boost immunity and may even improve the effects of antibiotics.