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7-Day Menu for Cold and Flu Season

Foods to Boost Immunity, Help Healing, and Fight Coughing

Day 2: Meals for Cold and Flu Season continued...

Lunch: Broiled chicken breast sandwich with lettuce, onion, and tomato on a whole-grain bun, dressed in barbecue sauce,with edamame (green soybeans) for munching and hot green tea.

Dinner: Chili made with extra-lean red meat served on a baked potato with skin, and spinach or romaine salad topped with pears and walnuts, dressed in a raspberry vinaigrette made with canola oil.

How They Help Your Immune System

Having low levels of iron and zinc may leave you vulnerable to infection. The lean red meat, the chicken, and the soybeans have iron and zinc. The baked potato adds iron as well as vitamin C.

Key antioxidant vitamins -- folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin A -- are in strawberries, salad greens, and tomatoes, while a daily dose of plant omega-3s come from flaxseed, edamame, walnuts, and canola oil.

The yogurt adds a daily dose of immune-supporting probiotics. Daily dietary probiotics helped reduce fever, runny nose, and cough as well as the number of missed school days due to illness, according to a small study conducted during the winter season with healthy children ages 3 to 5. The probiotic L. acidophilus NCFM was effective, but combining it with B. Lactis Bi-07 gave even better protection.

Day 3: Meals for Cold and Flu Season

Breakfast: Whole-grain pancakes served with fresh/frozen berries and yogurt (with probiotics and vitamin D), and freshly brewed tea or coffee.

Lunch: Tuna salad sandwich (made with tuna canned in water, chopped onions, and light vinaigrette with canola oil instead of mayonnaise) in a whole wheat pita pocket, with carrot sticks, fruit salad (with kiwi, orange segments, and/or berries), and hot tea.

Dinner: Beef and vegetable stir-fry made with extra-lean strips of sirloin steak, red bell pepper, broccoli florets, and canola oil, served over steamed brown rice and sprinkled with soynuts or toasted almonds, and served with hot miso soup or other clear broth soup.

How They Help Your Immune System

Selenium is needed for a strong immune system, but too much can do the opposite, so getting your selenium from food sources is best. The whole-grain pancakes, pita, brown rice, tuna, and lean meat all have selenium.

Too little zinc can leave you open to infections; the yogurt, lean beef, and almonds or soy nuts all donate a nice dose of zinc.

Broccoli and red bell peppers bring three infection-fighting nutrients to the table: folic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin A. The berries and the fruit salad add even more folic acid and vitamin C.

Tuna and canola oil have anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, which may reduce the risk of pneumonia. The yogurt has a daily dose of immune-supporting probiotic.

The hot coffee and tea and the broth or miso soup will have soothing effects on the throat and sinuses. Fluids also help with hydration, keeping mucus as thin and fluid as possible.

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