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Eating right to arm you & your family's immune system this winter

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Arm your family's immune system this winter


Along with chilly temperatures, winter brings a variety of bugs, often leaving us and our family feeling run down or completely knocked over by colds and flu. It is not just your kids you need to ensure don't get sick...it is you too! Luckily, there are things you can do to help boost your immunity and keep the bugs at bay.

Although there are no quick fixes to prevent colds and flu from striking there are steps you can take to ensure you and your family's immune system is at peak performance. Some of the basics are to:

-       Wash your hands regularly
-       Avoid close contact with those that are already sick
-       Keep surfaces clean
-       Follow good food safety practices
-       Consider getting a flu shot
-       Get enough sleep
-       Make sure you get regular exercise

Nutrition and the role it plays
While there is no direct evidence that catching a cold or the flu is related to our diet, nutrition is essential for maintaining the body’s immune function. There are a variety of nutrients in food that can boost the immune system. You can find these immune-boosting nutrients in...

Vitamin A
Found in: eggs, milk, and orange/yellow fruits and vegies

Vitamin B6
Found in: meat, whole grains, vegetables

Vitamin C
Found in: citrus fruit, kiwifruit, berries, capsicum and broccoli

Vitamin E
Found in: nuts, grains, vegetable oils and wheat germ

Selenium
Found in: brazil nuts, seafood, meat and poultry

Zinc
Found in: lean meats and shell-fish, dairy products (choose low-fat), whole grains, beans and nuts

Probiotics
Found in: fermented dairy products such as yoghurt
There are some commonly talked about remedies for colds and flu. Echinacea is a herbal remedy often recommended. However, there is controversy over whether or not it is effective and more research is required. Garlic has been shown to help reduce the duration of colds and prevent their onset. Try to include garlic in cooking on a regular basis. And I’m sure you’ve all heard the old saying “Feed a cold, starve a fever”? This one happens to be supported by scientific evidence. However, it is likely to be more relevant for fevers caused by bacterial infections as opposed to fevers caused by viral infections (the flu).

Fluid
Another aspect of nutrition not to be overlooked is your fluid intake. Keeping well hydrated is crucial for easing the symptoms of colds and flu as it prevents the throat and nose lining from drying out. Warm fluids are especially helpful as they can help moisten your throat and loosen mucus. Honey drinks have been shown to ease coughing. Try to drink at least 8 glasses of fluid each day.

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