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Cold, Flu, & Cough Health Center

7-Day Menu for Cold and Flu Season

Foods to Boost Immunity, Help Healing, and Fight Coughing
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Day 3: Meals for Cold and Flu Season continued...

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.

Day 4: Meals for Cold and Flu Season

Breakfast: Oatmeal made with low-fat milk or light soy milk (fortified with vitamin D) and topped with ground flaxseed, walnuts, or pecans and frozen berries, served with a cup of freshly brewed hot green or black tea or coffee.

Lunch: Bean burrito made with a whole-grain tortilla, black or pinto beans, reduced-fat cheese, and chopped tomato and onions and spiced up with taco sauce, served with fresh mango, papaya, or cantaloupe and a cup of freshly brewed hot green tea.

Dinner: Spaghetti made with mushroom and garlic marinara and whole wheat spaghetti noodles, served with steamed cauliflower and a glass of nonfat or low-fat milk.

How They Help Your Immune System

Caffeine from tea or coffee can act like an antihistamine in the body, Leopold says. But the tea and coffee need to be of high quality and freshly brewed. The milk from breakfast and dinner will contribute a dose of vitamin D, which has a key role in the immune system. “People don’t get enough vitamin D, particularly during the flu season,” Leopold says.

The whole-grain servings from the oatmeal, tortilla, and spaghetti noodles deliver good amounts of several minerals important to the immune system -- selenium, zinc, and iron. The beans add folic acid and selenium. Mango, papaya, and orange are all great sources of two key vitamins -- vitamin A and C -- and cauliflower contributes folic acid and vitamin C.

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